Community spirit propels Wimberley through flood tragedy

The desperate search continues along the Blanco River for people who were swept away by unprecedented floodwaters.

WIMBERLEY, Texas — Efforts to find 13 people missing in floods in Central Texas are still at a search-and-rescue phase. Emergency crews said they are not yet ready to move to "recovery" in Blanco and Hays County.

Wimberley — about four hours southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area — was one of the towns hardest hit by flooding. The town of 2,500 people is divided by the Blanco River, which raged out of control late Saturday night into Sunday morning, damaging or destroying hundreds of homes.

One piece at a time, volunteers are trying to mount a recovery in Wimberley. Working is the only way to get through it. If you stay still too long, they say you're paralyzed by the sorrow of knowing that people died... and that many are still missing.

"You'll just go stark crazy, foaming at the mouth, hugging-the-commode crazy," said volunteer Brice Barnes. "That doesn't do anybody any good."

That kind of motivation to work off the sadness comes in handy when you see the scope of the to-do list here.

"The amount of help that's needed here is something you can pan around and see," Barnes said. "It's staggering, absolutely staggering."

So are the stories of the survivors, some of whom made it out with just minutes to spare.

The Blanco River came up that fast Saturday night into Sunday morning. The river is still moving at a good clip.

You see destruction everywhere, but it's still hard to imagine the wall of water that came through over the weekend. Officials said the river at one point rose 12 to 14 feet in a matter of 30 minutes.

"This was no joke. It was a wall of water," said Gay Sullivan, adding that she and her husband Mike knew it was time to go.

"He told me this is different, because we have been through a lot of floods. This house has never flooded, and he said this one is different," Sullivan said.

City officials knew, too. Sullivan said the warnings were frequent and stern on the landline.

"We were kept posted, posted, posted," she said. "By the last message — because the phones went out — they were frantic telling us it was coming... move to higher ground.... it was coming."

And now it has gone; taking with it lives and property, but leaving behind a determination to draw closer to get through this disaster... together.


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