In Session. In-depth: Texas Wildfire Recovery Funding

March 6th, 2013 at 5:01 pm by under Politics

Tree burned in wildfire at Bastrop State Park (Josh Hinkle/KXAN)

This week on “In Session. In-depth,” we travel to Bastrop to talk about the costs associated with a devastating wildfire in 2011. Nearly $5 million in state money could soon come to Bastrop State Park for recovery, but lawmakers still have to sign off on the funding project.

Plus, they have to consider the bill owed for that disastrous season statewide – $161 million. Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, joins us from the State Capitol to talk about the push for Central Texas funding.

And our roundtable goes on the road for an in-depth look at the fire’s impact in Bastrop and the progress being made there. Join us for “In Session. In-depth.” this Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on KXAN News.

Spicewood: It takes a community to rebuild

September 25th, 2011 at 8:15 pm by under Photo/Video, Weather

I was out of town visiting family when the 6,400 acre wildfire broke out in Spicewood. Normally, a drive I take to work a couple days a week is filled with the great scenery on Highway 71. The jaw drop that occurred when I came back and saw the destruction a wildfire left in its place had me telling my news team on a conference call that parts of Spicewood looked like a scene out of a Tim Burton movie.

Tim Burton movie set or Spicewood?

The Spicewood fire undoubtedly was overshadowed by the fire that occurred in Bastrop. The Hill Country, however, is my territory and beat. Any chance I get to go out there, I do. I’ve made it my goal to make sure KXAN reports and gives coverage to the fire victims there.

Fire Ravaged Home off Paleface Ranch Road

The fire ravaged 6,400 acres and the cause still has not been disclosed. I have no doubt rebuilding will take months and regrowth of trees and vegetation will take even longer. What is great is that the community is coming together to help. Every time I am out on a story, I hear about volunteers giving their time and energy to help clean up. On Sunday, the Cazalas family worked along with colleagues and neighbors to clean up their two acre property. They have nothing left except what is in a wheelbarrow. Sitting under a tree, the wheelbarrow is filled with charred jewelry, pots, pans and one melted Christmas ornament.

What is left of heirlooms

It is nice to see neighbors helping neighbors. And, I think this is what will help with rebuilding. Nothing is more comforting in times of disaster or despair than to have friends around who are supporting and caring for you. On Sunday, I pulled on to a property leveled by fire and was quickly met by a man wanting to know who I was and why I was on the property. He said, “We look out for each other here.” I explained to him what I was doing in the neighborhood and he quickly told me how he has taken watch because he does not want his neighbor’s property looted. I know he took me for someone out to do wrong. But, I simply took a few steps back and listened to him. After asking him how he was doing, how rebuilding was going, what would he like me to know as a reporter, his attitude became friendly. I didn’t end up interviewing that man even though I wanted a story. It meant more to let him know, I am here listening and I wanted to know what he had to say and how he was doing following the fire whether a camera was rolling or not.

What if this was all you had left?

There is no doubt Spicewood residents have a long road ahead. Still, with the support system they have in place, that road will eventually lead to new homes. I also want to add that the bonds between neighbors that are being made will stand the test of time and that is something flames can’t destroy.