Displaced family finally moves into new home
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 by Matthew Girard
Almost two years ago, Frankie and Dora Pruett's life changed forever.
Now 19 months after the flood of September 2010, the Pruett's are finally getting the chance to embrace their life changing so dramatically.
Two weeks ago, Frankie and Dora moved into their new house provided by funding from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) after their home located at 123 N. Walker was condemned by the City due to its location in the flood plain of Nolan Creek.
Frankie, who lived in the house on Walker with his wife and grandchildren for 20 years, remembers the morning of the flood well.
"That morning, my dad called me on the phone and said, 'Watch that creek, it's coming down,'" Frankie said. "I had my grandson and granddaughter with us and told them that we were going to have to get out of here.
"It was up nearly to our waists. After we got out, we went to my parent's house. We went back after the water went back down to see the damage. It didn't cause a whole lot of damage that you could see. It was underneath the house because it was an old pear and beam house sitting."
Frankie said he wasn't initially pleased with the city's decision to condemn his home.
"I really thought they were doing me a lot of damage in the beginning by taking my home away from me, but what I ended up with was wonderful," Frankie said.
City of Belton Support Services Coordinator Jerri Gauntt and other city staff went to work immediately to help the Pruett's.
Previously the city had worked with GrantWorks in handling the administration of building homes through the TDHCA, but decided this time to try it themselves.
"We had GrantWorks do these homes prior to this, but we thought we would try to administer one on our own," Gauntt said.
Despite several setbacks during the process, eventually Christopher Butler of Personified Homes was awarded the bid to build the Pruett's new home located on West Avenue C.
"They had to meet certain requirements and certain square footage," Gauntt said. "It was $73 per square foot and it couldn't be more than $80,000, so there were a lot of limitations financially."
During the process, Frankie was very hands-on throughout.
"I know Jerri got tired of me coming down there and talking with her," Frankie said. "She never got upset and she never got riled or anything with me coming down there so often."
Gauntt said she just wanted to help the Pruett's any way she could.
"It was good to get their input and understand where they were coming from," Gauntt said. "To be able to communicate that to other staff members was helpful."
Although Gauntt said learning the process was good for her and the staff to go through, she recommended a resolution to the City Council to have a company like GrantWorks take over the administration process for the building of 5-6 homes in the future. The resolution was passed unanimously.
"This was a good experience for us to understand the work that those grant companies do," Gauntt said. "I think we are going to be better consumers because of this."
In the end, both Gauntt and the Pruett's are pleased with the end result.
"The end result is absolutely wonderful and it made us, as a staff, evaluate some of our policies and procedures," Gauntt said. "It's very rewarding for the Pruett's and for the community. It's not about just one home, it's about a neighborhood or the entire community."
Frankie said he and his family wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
"I'm glad to call Belton my home," Frankie said.