Community
10:22 am
Tue May 27, 2014

One Year After Major Flooding, All But 5 Espada Families Have Moved Away

The 100-year floodplain around Mission Espada.
The 100-year floodplain around Mission Espada.
Credit San Antonio River Authority

It was one year ago last weekend that torrential rains flooded much of Central and South San Antonio. The storms killed three, stranded dozens, left thousands without power and displaced more than two dozen families on the San Antonio River.

A year after the devastation, many of those residents have now moved away from the only home their families had known for more than 100 years.

Homeowners near the Espada Mission said they had never seen nine feet of water before, but the water rose within an hour, and 27 families lost everything.

“Back in the day when my grandfather lived out there, he worked the fields. That was his way of life. And so did my uncles," said Sandra Martinez, who also said the sad part for her family was losing things that had sentimental value – and splitting up the extended family that had grown up together.

“That’s my home. It’s where my parents lived," Martinez said. "And in that same area, it’s all family. My mom’s dad bought over 88 acres, and he gave it to his children. And my mom had eight kids, so she gave each of us an acre. So five of us lived out there, and all of my cousins on the side.”

Laura Jesse, spokeswoman for Bexar County commissioners, said engineers determined the area had to be declared a flood zone, and commissioners and the San Antonio River Authority came up with three options for the residents.

“They could keep the title to their land and take a buyout -- we called it selling the flood easement -- and then we would relocate them.

"The other options were that they could just outright sell the property to the county, and the third one was that they could stay on their land but they would have to rebuild to flood-plain standards,” Jesse said.

So far, the county said all but five families have taken one of the options and moved away and the San Antonio River Authority continues to make offers to the families that remain.

The families were able to retain the legal ownership of their land, and which allows them to use it for agriculture.

The Martinez family has moved to Floresville, along with her parents and a sister. A brother moved to Canyon Lake, and some others are still getting resettled.

“But we really do miss our home and our area because of our roots, you know,” Martinez said.