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One Year Later Bastrop Families Still Struggling To Rebuild

Updated: Tuesday, September 4 2012, 02:46 PM CDT

Tuesday marks one year since the start of the Bastrop County Complex Fire. It was the most devastating of the Central Texas wildfires burning in our area around this time last year.

The wildfires in Bastrop chewed up 34,000 acres and destroyed 1,691 homes. According to FEMA, 276 of those homes were not insured and many more were under-insured.

That's made the rebuilding process tougher for those who still want to call Bastrop home.

Every day can seem like an uphill battle for Michael Hritz.  One year after the wildfires, his new house is still not ready to be a home. 

“This is such a burden physically, emotionally, spiritually that I felt like I was being crushed into the ground,” he says.

Michael and his family were so tired of literally living in the shadow of a FEMA trailer that he quit his job of 12 years in Austin.

Michael's hands are now calloused with the job of making his new life better than his old one.  Hard work -- when what he had was so good. “Our lives changed. This little spot that we loved so much where you couldn't see the house from the road became what it is today, which is almost a cow pasture,” he says.

The once lush landscape crowded with pines, oak and cedar became the fuel for the fire that devoured his home.

“We had had the conversation of what would you do if you had 15 minutes, what would you take? We had had that conversation and we had our plan in place. The only thing we didn't have was 15 minutes,” Michael says.

They had five to take what they could and run.  Now he’s making the most of what wasn't reduced to ash.  

Around his property though, nature is showing Michael more survived than he might have originally thought. “I had three beauty berries that I just babied along through the drought. And there was no trace of them after the fire. They're alive and two of them are overgrown with berries this year. So there are little bits of the spirit that are still here.”

The home is still under construction, but the Bastrop man has always been devoted to the pain-staking process of rebuilding. “Four years ago I scattered the ashes of my wife of 36 years around this house. There was never any question of home being anywhere else but right here.”

The Bastrop County long term recovery team has been instrumental in helping the uninsured and underinsured rebuild their homes.

For more information on the fires, go to Year Later Bastrop Families Still Struggling To Rebuild

Click here to see more Central Texas Wildfires

Central Texas Wildfires - Bastrop Map

Central Texas Wildfires - Bastrop Map

Bastrop Anniversary Events

Tue. Sept. 4, 6:30 p.m.
A Night of Hope, Hyatt Lost Pines

An evening remembering the last year and looking forward toward a bright future. For tickets and more information contact Jennifer Long, 512-461-9418 or Sponsored by Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team.

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