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The University Star

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Hays County continues recovery after May storm

Hays+County+continues+recovery+after+May+storm

On May 9, a hailstorm swept through San Marcos  and caused over $1.1 million in damages throughout Hays County.

Veteran Foreign Wars (VFW) post 3414 has been long standing in San Marcos for almost 90 years, and was collateral damage in the storm. Aaron Brown, post quartermaster for the VFW in San Marcos was caught in the middle of the hailstorm while there.

Brown said the storm’s havoc resulted in the entire roof of the VFW post getting pulled and rolled over. According to Brown, the entire south side of the building was also pulled away.

“The problem is with our deductible being almost $16,000 for the damages [to the VFW post], we’ve had to stop pretty much all other projects until we got that figured out,” Brown said.

The national VFW website describes the posts as organizations made up of veterans to help one another and establish veteran support systems such as the GI Bill. According to Brown, the San Marcos VFW post rents out the space to various community members.

“[The post] is a great place to meet history,” Brown said. “We got cold war era [veterans] in here, Vietnam era [veterans] in here. It’s living history.”

According to Brown, the city of San Marcos requires the post to install a new fire suppression system. The cost of that, along with repairing the damages from the May 9 hailstorm, have contributed to the VFW potentially closing after almost a century due to the financial burden.

The city is looking to help but we don’t know what that looks like yet,” Brown said.

Beyond the VFW, on May 21 San Marcos City Council voted to amend the city’s fiscal budget to account for $750,000 of emergency expenses for storm response. During the meeting, Councilmember Mark Gleason said Hays County also requested a disaster declaration. This would allow for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse up to 75% of costs if the county reaches a threshold of $1.1 million in reported damages according to Gleason.

Amy Thomaides, manager of the Resource Recovery Division of the Neighborhood Enhancement Department said Resource Recovery is unsure of the effects the $750,000 will have on the fiscal budget but they will have a better estimate in July.

“The $1.1 million is everything, all our expenses toward the storm… [and] from what I understand we have reached the $1.1 million,” Thomaides said.

At the June 4 San Marcos City Council Work Session meeting, Emergency Management Coordinator Rob Fitch spoke on the various city departments that came together to address the storm fallout as fast as possible. Those departments included Emergency Management, Public Works, SMTX Utilities, Communications, Parks & Recreation and Neighborhood Enhancement.

“[Volunteers have] been boots on the ground, passing out flyers for people to know how to report [damages] through the state’s system and also to request help for debris removal,” Thomaides said.

According to Thomaides, brush pickup began on May 20 to give volunteers time to move debris to curbs. She anticipated the completion of all debris pick up by June 8, with a final pass-through the week after. Due to this, Thomaides said they are not accepting requests anymore for debris removal as most volunteers have finished removing debris and are no longer available.

In addition, the 136 storm-related electric power outages lasted from 8:26 p.m. on May 9 to 9:52 p.m. on May 11. Also, Fitch said San Marcos residents reported to Resource Recovery around 50 power lines that were damaged or taken down.

San Marcos’ Alert Towers were not used during the storm as the towers are currently not operational. Fitch said the city’s Communications Department used National Weather Service (NWS) alerts to help notify citizens of the storm.

“I talked to more than a dozen people that had no idea anything was happening. Their phones went off but they thought it was just an amber alert,” Gleason said at the June 4 meeting. “I think [the Alert Towers] need to get up and going as soon as possible.”

According to Thomaides, the May 9 storm was worse than previous ice storms due to it being widespread throughout the city instead of just in a certain section such as in previous ice storms.

“We’re going into an active hurricane season for Texas, so we all need to be prepared,” Thomaides said. “As [we’ve] gone through this little storm, prepare for anything big coming up.”

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