BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) - A year and a half after a wind-fueled wildfire burned through the rain-starved landscapes of Bastrop County, the community is starting to look forward once more.
"There's been a lot of progress in the 18 months since the fire," said Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape. "We have of the 1,700 homes that were lost. (But) we've issued 1,212 building permits in the last 18 months."
A tour of Bastrop now shows a far different of the area since the fires that broke out over the Labor Day weekend in 2011. Instead of the charred pines and scorched and empty housing foundations, visitors to the Tahitian Village neighborhood see green trees and new homes standing.
Schools are open and stores are busy. Aid in the form of private donations and government assistance has helped many families rebuild their homes and their lives.
But not everyone in Bastrop has seen life get back to normal.
Part-time teacher Jim Bishop lived on five acres nestled among the Lost Pines for 30 years. But his home was among the hundreds lost.
Worse, just four days before the fires started, Bishop was laid off from his job. "I lost everything," he said.
With all of his belongings gone, Bishop has lived in a 12-foot by 40-foot trailer hauled to Bastrop by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"It beats not having nothing at all," Bishop said. "And at least it's your own place."
But it might not be Bishop's place much longer. He is on the waiting list for a home grant from a government agency. But he doesn't know if he'll qualify. "They haven't told me anything, he said. "I'm treated like a mushroom."
Meanwhile, Bishop said that because he only works part time, e cannot afford the $1,500 a month for an extension on his FEMA trailer.
"I don't understand why they have to have the trailers a matter of months from our situation being solved. Where will you be in six months? In six months I hope to be in my new house built by a grant from the federal government, which I greatly appreciate. That's where I hope to be at."
For the next month, he plans to move in with friends. After that, he plans to put a tent up on his land, and hope the housing grant comes through.
"They said I could stay to the end of the school year because I need a place to shower to go to work, soon as school is out June 6th, I'm going to move out here, construct what I can to live out there," he said. "I have electricity, I have water, I think if the Texans who came before me can do it, I can do it."
Pape said that stories like Bishop's shows that even though Bastrop is moving forward, all the work is not yet done.
"Until everyone is back in a home and back settled in Bastrop County," he said, "we're not going to rest easy.
"I think Bastrop County has handled this bump pretty well, and we're on the road to recovery. Everyone's working together. We're finding solutions, and we're very optimistic about the future."
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