My family and I live in Wimberley, Texas, which you may remember was struck by a flood on Saturday, May 23, 2015. Unprecedented is a term often used to describe the flooding. Still, that adjective does not capture the magnitude of what happened that evening along the Blanco River.  Twenty-three people lost their lives. I saw firsthand the flooding snapping cypress trees 6 feet in diameter as the floodwaters moved at an estimated 40 miles per hour. The flood, in my opinion, created damage and ensuing hardship that could compare to the aftermath of a tsunami.

The event changed the Wimberley community physically, psychologically, and economically.  I don’t believe that the cypress trees will regrow to their wondrous fullness along the river in my lifetime.  Families have rebuilt homes with a more profound respect for a river that is ordinarily beautiful and tranquil, but that can also bring death and destruction in the middle of the night. All of those who lost homes faced the damage of treasured personal belongings and mementos while feeling fortunate to have survived.

When the floodwaters receded, some people sold their property and moved away while others rebuilt. For those who stayed, they helped to cultivate a stronger community, which has been amazing to witness.  Also, people from all over the country, not just Texas, showed up, cared, and helped in an inspiring display of what makes our nation proud. Wimberley, though changed, is still the wonderful place and community of people that I have always cherished.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created health, economic, and social tsunamis across the globe. I believe this crisis, along with the potential collapse of numerous industries and businesses, could result in many people struggling to meet their basic survival needs. Like a tsunami, the pandemic will bring with it both the destruction of treasured old things and ways, as well as the opportunity to rebuild anew and better.

While this is painful, it brings opportunities for all of us to recognize what is important in life. My friends and family in Wimberley, while devastated by the loss of their homes, discovered a deeper appreciation for their families, friends, and neighbors.  Families have grown closer.  Empathy and hospitality with each other rose to a new high.  The newfound resilience and compassion in the community have lasted even after the floods and destruction have calmed.

How might COVID-19 change your way of thinking, like the floods changed the way of thinking in Wimberley? How might you and your community rebuild from this experience?

On the first anniversary of the flood, the Wimberley ISD held a remarkable and heart-warming gathering in gratitude for the first responders and volunteers. We also remembered and cherished those lost.

Challenging times lay ahead, and rebuilding won’t occur overnight.  But, we may find something cherished at the end of this experience. We only have to look for it.

Laura, Ryan, Kinley, and I are here to help you and your family as best we can through this time of change. Know that you can call us anytime.

Kindest regards,