One team in particular was recently recognized for its “outstanding performance and lasting contributions to rebuilding in the State of Texas.” The Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team received the 2013 LTRC of the Year Award from Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
“This is the first time this award has been given to a long term recovery team, but this team has done such a fabulous job that it was a unanimous decision to open it up for them,” said Anna Tangredi, the State Voluntary Agency Liaison with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, as she presented the award to BCLTRT President Christine Files.
Assistant Director for Emergency Management and Homeland Security Nim Kidd added, “This award highlights the Bastrop Long Term Recovery Team’s commitment to the community’s recovery from the 2011 Bastrop Complex Wildfires. It’s the efforts like theirs that make me proud to be a part of the emergency management community in this state and a Texan. I commend them for their dedication and congratulate them on this well-deserved honor.”
In Bastrop County during the Labor Day fires of 2011, 1691 homes and 38 businesses were destroyed. The fires burned over 34,000 acres and killed 2 people.
In March, BCLTRT will celebrate the completion of its 100th home. Through fundraising efforts and partnerships, the group has funded over $3.9 million on 118 building projects toward the recovery efforts in Bastrop County. In addition, volunteers have worked in excess of 500,000 hours on over 1450 properties to assist the thousands of fire survivors with everything from debris cleanup to the rebuilding of homes. Other projects have included the building of storage sheds, decks, handicap ramps and skirting for those that replaced their manufactured homes and assisting ranchers with rebuilding fences for their livestock.
Every home that is rebuilt is a success story. The official count this week is 94 homes. There are 25 more that have been funded and most of those are already under construction and still BCLTRT continues to find families who need assistance. These are homes that are rebuilt or completed with about 90% volunteer labor. The expenses incurred are primarily for construction materials and contractors for AC systems, plumbing and electrical work.
“The work that has occurred in Bastrop County has been amazing. The logistics and coordination required for an endeavor of this size is mind boggling and often overwhelming. But thankfully, there were disaster experienced people ready to guide us and in turn we will pass what we learn on to those who will follow,” said Janice Butler, BCLTRT Executive Director.
“As the local instant commander during the wildfires, I cannot tell you how proud I am that these people were able to put together this team and accomplish all that they have accomplished. They took a great burden off the county’s shoulders and they did it with an oversight and enthusiasm that will be hard to duplicate,” said Mike Fisher, the Emergency Management Coordinator for Bastrop County. These words were echoed by Bastrop County Judge, Paul Pape when he said “I just couldn’t be any prouder of what Ms. Files and her team have accomplished.”
BCLTRT had a windfall in September 2013 when the American Red Cross granted them $1.5 million to keep rebuilding. “Two years past the disaster, many people had given up hope of ever having a house again. ARC gave us a second wind and a sigh of relief. Bastrop County residents are excited to know that BCLTRT is still here rebuilding homes and that people still care about them. “The only challenge is working out the building schedule so that we can get all clients served while the builders are here. However, builders keep coming so we just assign the next house to be rebuilt. It’s very humbling,” Butler added.
Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) President Alvin Migues stated, “Although a challenging but fulfilling process, the Bastrop Long Term Recovery Team has cultivated relationships with non-profits, faith-based organizations as well as government to ensure that the people of Bastrop are taken care of and homes are rebuilt. To be selected as ‘Outstanding Long Term Recovery Group’ for 2013 is quite an honor.”
BCLTRT credits its success to the excellent relationships that have been established with Christian Aid Ministries, Mennonite Disaster Services, Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service and World Renew for providing the volunteers for completing these homes.
In addition, none of it would have been possible without the generous and continuous support of funders such as: Austin Community Foundation, the Collins Foundation and the Meadows Foundation and through BCLTRT’s funding partners, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, Austin Disaster Relief Network, Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response, United Methodist Church SWTX Conference, First United Methodist Church Bastrop, Bastrop Christian Ministerial Alliance, Smithville Ministerial Alliance, Bastrop Rotary Club, Albert and Ethel Herzstein Foundation, Pacific Railroad Foundation, Presbyterian Churches USA, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and numerous individuals, churches and businesses throughout Bastrop County.