Apr 17, 2012

Bastrop Team Dedicated to Long Recovery

Wildfires ravaged Bastrop County in September 2011, leaving hundreds homeless. Photo by Lizzie Chen.

[audio:https://reportingtexas.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Templeton-Bastrop-Recovery-Update-MI.mp3|titles=Regan Templeton]

By Regan Templeton
For Reporting Texas and KUT News

Six months after devastating fires left hundreds in the area homeless, the Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Committee is dedicated to rebuilding lives.

“I think for a lot of people, they think this disaster is over,” said Christine Files, the committee president, who spoke at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier this month. “It is not over. It will not be over for another four to five years. Our goal as the Long Term Recovery Team is to rebuild every single home for every single person who wants to stay here.”

Files was among the representatives of the recovery effort who recently updated local business leaders on their progress. She said that the committee has spent $145,000 to help rebuild homes and construction is under way for four. But more than 700 homeowners have asked for help. Many of them didn’t have insurance or were under-insured, and don’t have the money to rebuild — even with federal assistance.

The team completed their first house built through their “unmet needs” program on April 7. “That is a really special thing for us,” Files said. “That is what we are all about.”

But Files said the needs in Bastrop are more than financial. So the committee, many of whose members are with faith-based organizations, also offers counseling services.

“Many of you may not realize that those emotional needs are still very large in this community,” Files said. “People are still very much affected by the fire, whether they are an actual fire victim or not.”

Aaron Gordon, a firefighter who also attended the luncheon, said that since the fires, he had noticed an increased sense of community in Bastrop.

“It’s really just a great feeling to know how thankful people are that have each other,” he said. “So we came together as a community and helped each other out.”