My mom plays in the Hill Country Community Band which is based in Wimberley… just 15 minutes away from our neighborhood. Last weekend, Wimberley, along with dozens of other Texas towns, was devastated by flash flooding. 12 people in Wimberley were initially missing (8 were in one home vacationing from Corpus Christi, 3 of whom were children)… those numbers have slowly turned to deaths over the last week. All in all over 350 homes were destroyed or damaged (some reports that 60-70 were swept off their foundations along the Blanco River) and over 1000 people are displaced. This tragedy is personal, it’s close to home, it affects people we know. My mom was especially moved to do something, anything. We all felt so helpless.
So on Wednesday evening, mom put out a call on our neighborhood River Chase Facebook page asking if anyone wanted to help put together sack lunches for the victims and volunteers in Wimberley to deliver on Thursday. She went to Costco and loaded up on supplies. Thursday morning, we had 16 people in my home dropping off supplies, dropping off homemade lunches, or helping us assemble sack lunches. Some donated money. Mom organized the event into stations, with Station One being the paper bag, Gatorade, apple station; Station Two being the sandwich and labeling station; and Station Three being the chips, cookies, staple, and packing station. She had name tags for us and within 1.5 hours, we had nearly 200 sack lunches loaded into my van ready to go. Special thanks to our River Chase neighbors: Sherry Saville, Shayna Morris, Anne Johnson-Hassinger, Lisa Carter, Stephanie Scotch + Gus (snicker doodles), Jennifer Fendia Leslie (30 lunches), Chelsea Ormond + mom + 2 boys (25 lunches), Stasi Langendorf, Julie Allison (cookies), Deb Wigdington (apples), Brannon Brooke, Kim Francis, and also to the two random workers in Wimberley who gave us cash.
Mom and I then drove to Wimberley to the base of operations at the Cypress Creek Church. Mom had been in contact with the head coordinator, Courtney, was was leading the FEMA and city efforts in helping volunteers connect with the flood victims. We filled out the volunteer intake forms, we got our wristbands, then we were directed to go to Paradise Hills on Blanco Drive and River Bend to deliver lunches. Entering the neighborhood was surreal. In front of every house, which backs up to the Blanco River, were stacks and stacks of debris… drywall, appliances, clothes, household items. Volunteer vehicles lined both sides of the street as far as the eye could see and only one lane of traffic could fit through. Each house had fences in between the properties, with long driveways leading the houses set way back on the property. You could see bark and debris twisted up in each fence, all the way up to the street. The ground was still very muddy and boggy. Peering out behind the houses, we could see great destruction. The river bank looked as if it had completely sheared off. I understand that the river rose nearly 40 feet that Saturday night, coming all the way up the creek banks, engulfing the homes, and reaching nearly the street. Here is a satellite map of the area where we volunteered… gives you some perspective on how huge this flood was.
We split up and went house to house with a big box of lunches, asking if anyone was hungry. Some said no, some said they would love some for later, some eagerly and gratefully took our offerings. All of the homeowners present asked for lunches for the volunteers who were helping them clean up before they asked for themselves. We met one homeowner, John Fox, who especially touched our hearts. He was in the first graduating class of Canyon High School in the 60s, and he and his wife were getting the house ready to go on the market next month. Sigh, can you imagine? Everyone was friendly and everyone was grateful. Not grateful for us bringing lunch, but grateful for their lives, that their pets survived, that they had a home standing. They were grateful. They all gave us hugs. Lots and lots of hugs. It rained on us. We didn’t care.
Mom is back in Wimberley today, helping Courtney coordinate the huge influx of weekend volunteers. I am aching to go back and do more. Maybe next week while the kids are still in school.
There are still a dozen people missing throughout Texas. Please pray they are found soon so their families can begin to find some closure.