Bastrop Team Dedicated to Recovery
By Regan Templeton, KUT News and Reporting Texas.com
Representatives of Bastrop’s wildfire recovery effort updated local business leaders this week on progress that’s been made since last September when thousands of homes and businesses in the county were destroyed.
Christine Files is president of the Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Committee, which directs a team dedicated to the multi-year rebuilding process after wildfires ravaged the area and left hundreds homeless. She spoke at a Bastrop Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday.
“For a lot of people, they think this disaster is over. It is not over. It will not be over for another four to five years,” Files said. “Our goal as the Long Term Recovery Team is to rebuild every single home for every single person who wants to stay here.”
Files said the committee has spent $145,000 to help rebuild homes and construction is underway for four of them. 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.
“[On] Saturday we have a big event: the completion and the dedication of the first house that went through our unmet-needs program,” Files said. “That is a really special thing for us. That is what we are all about.”
And Bastrop community members have more than just financial needs, Files said. The committee – many of whose members are with faith-based organizations –offers a variety of counseling services.
“Many of you may not realize that those emotional needs are still very large in this community,” she said. “People are still very much affected by this fire, whether they are an actual fire victim or not.”
Fireman Aaron Gordon also attended Wednesday’s luncheon. What he’s noticed most since the wildfires has been an increased sense of community in Bastrop.
“It’s really just a great feeling to know how thankful people are that we have each other,” Gordon said. “We came together as a community and helped each other out.”