Uncertainty continues for Arlington flood victims

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on September 13, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 13 at 11:40 PM

ARLINGTON — It's the big question for residents of the Willows condominiums in Arlington: Stay or go?

The development was inundated by water from a swollen creek during heavy rains last week, resulting in heavy damage.

Arlington's mayor would like to see the homes bought out by the federal government, but that could take action by the president himself.

Joe Alcala and his family spent their first night in their new home here in Arlington last Tuesday. On Wednesday, he awoke to find his bed an island.

"There was water on my bed," he said. The flooding destroyed nearly everything the family had just spent hours moving in.

On Monday evening, Alcala went to this meeting in Arlington to see if the government's going to throw him a lifeline.

He is one of dozens of tenants at the Willows who didn't have flood insurance. Some said they didn't know they were in a flood plain.

As Alcala later told his wife, it will take a presidential declaration to make them eligible for emergency funds that would help replace their belongings.

While Arlington's mayor supports a presidential disaster declaration, Rep. Joe Barton said there's no guarantee. "To be honest, it's a judgment call, and this appears to be one of those that could go either way," Barton said.

A presidential declaration could also make it possible to buy out owners in the flood-prone area near Rush Creek, something most owners at the meeting support in theory.

But when Barton asked whether a price of $100,000 per unit might be acceptable, grumbles and jeers quickly made it obvious that a buy-out is not an easy answer.

The city says it's ready to inspect buildings as repairs are made, but some residents say the problem may be slow-moving owners who are not able — or ready — to come up with the funds for costly repairs.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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