It’s been almost one year since Viola Brown’s home in the Onion Creek Neighborhood of Austin was devastated by the historic Halloween Flood. When flood waters rose in her house in the middle of the night, she tried to evacuate but became stranded in the street, clinging to a stop sign for hours until emergency responders were able to rescue her from the fast-moving water.
She spent the next several nights in the Red Cross shelter in Dove Springs, where volunteers provided hot meals, a warm bed, comfort and hope for Viola and hundreds of other flood survivors. Red Cross health services volunteers helped Viola replace her glasses, which were lost in the flood, and disaster volunteers secured fresh foods for each meal that were compatible with Viola’s diabetic-friendly diet. Red Cross caseworkers helped Viola secure rental assistance so she could move into a new apartment.
“I have been so impressed by the goodwill of strangers,” Viola said. “It touches me greatly that the Red Cross volunteers helped us and treated us with such dignity.”
There are so many things that Viola misses about her house in Onion Creek—like the birds who sang outside her kitchen window, or the friendly smiles she would exchange with neighbors when they rode the bus into town. Yet, as she moves forward with her recovery, she remains steadfast in her belief that things will continue getting better and she looks forward to what lies ahead.
“This has opened my horizons to bigger and better things. I can see all of my life has been pointing towards where I am right now. I know from my successes and from having overcome other challenges, I know that I am going to be just fine.”
Viola has been empowered to move forward in her recovery. She is currently studying to renew her driver’s license, saving up for car, drafting her memoir, and working towards owning another house—her “ultimate American dream.”
Viola remains active with the Travis Austin Recovery Group, the long term recovery committee that formed following the flood. The Red Cross is also involved with the committee, providing support and guidance on long term recovery issues facing the community.
After surviving the floods, Viola’s hope has only strengthened. She looks back with gratitude on the contributions she made to the Red Cross through her workplace giving campaign before she retired.
“I never ever thought that when I was donating to the Red Cross all of those years, that I would have need of these services,” she said. “When there was a cry to give from the Red Cross because of some disaster, I ran to the fire, ran to the charge. And I’m so glad I did. If we collaborate, I truly believe we can help people all over the world when they need it most.”