Central Texas Floods: The Water, The Cleanup and The Search

May 28, 2015
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The amount of water that has fallen down on Texas in the last 30 days is just mind-blowing. Over the past weeks, I’ve talked to so many people who are located elsewhere, and I’ve been a complete broken record about rain, ‘the water just keeps falling, the earth is completely soaked, there’s no where else for it to go’. And I know, I know, it would be great for it to go to California. Someone call Elon Musk to build a pipeline. In the meantime, the current situation moved from crazy-making to heartbreaking.

I have felt all this rain first hand, and yet, even living it, my brain can’t completely get around this Infographic Piece that The Washington Post did on just how much rain has fallen in the last 30 days. Check it. Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 10.56.35 AM

Image Source: The Washington Post

The Washington Post Visualized: How The Insane Amount of Rain in Texas Could Turn Rhode Island Into a Lake.

“Each one of these cubes is 1,000 acre-feet in size, for a total of 1 million acre-feet. The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 2,700 feet, is dwarfed by this massive brick of water. The Statue of Liberty is just a speck at this scale. This 3,500 foot tall block of water could supply the needs of a city of 8 million people for one year. The crazy thing? This all flowed into Texas reservoirs in just the past 48 hours.”

And that’s 1 million acre-feet of water. 8 million acre-feet of water have flowed into the state’s reservoirs in the past 30 days.

But here we are, day four after the Memorial Day Central Texas Flood which affected a ton of counties, including Hays, Caldwell and Travis.

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The sun came out for the first time yesterday. The first time in a month. I wrote about my parents’ house flooding the other day and included a number of Central Texas Flood Resources for those looking to help. Yesterday also brought a giant dumpster in front of my parents’ house which is now full to the brim.

We are at the point where we’ve done all that we can do at my parents’ for a few days. A flood of family, friends and community members came to the rescue immediately and then a professional drying service came in and ransacked the place.

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They flipped everything upside down, tore out all the baseboards and brought in even more fans. The trashcan in the middle of the room is connected to a dehumidifier pulling moisture out of the air. In just a few hours, the giant trashcan was half full of water. Gross. Our neighbors all around us are going through the same thing…in many cases, they were hit a lot worse. Here is a news story about Martindale, and this was filmed at my family’s neighbor’s house. Someone started a fundraising page for my parents’ sweet neighbor Evy, who was hit hardIf you want to help them, go here. 

The house has to remain this way for about 72 hours, so while we were waiting, I heard from Kristin that she was going to help search for the missing families. And they were coming to Martindale.

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A search party team was on my family’s land yesterday combing the riverbank and beyond to broken trees and debris, searching everywhere for the missing. Today, there were 20 teams meeting in Wimberley and coming to Martindale. I could help.

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I met up with a part of Team 12. This group was made up of colleagues of two missing women, Laura McComb and Michelle Carey Charba. They had driven in from Dallas, Houston, College Station, San Antonio and Blanco. Some had talked to Laura just last Friday as she was driving in to spend Memorial Day weekend along the river in Wimberley.

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And they were some of the kindest people I’ve encountered in a long while. We split up and came back together and compared what we had seen. They all agreed that they were very glad they came to help, if only to understand how overwhelming this search  truly is.

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There is debris everywhere. Piles of it. Giant trees down. Mud everywhere. The terrain is compromised with a quicksand-like sludge and displaced animals.

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And it’s imperative to go through all of it.

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It is about 30 minutes by car from Wimberley to Martindale. I’m not sure how many river miles that is…but, it’s about 45 river miles from San Marcos to Martindale…which is only about five miles by car. I can’t even imagine how many river miles need to be searched.

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Plus, considering the amount of water that ran through, 43 feet of water  flowing at a rate of 223,000 cubic feet per second — 2.5 times the flow of Niagra Falls, it turns out about 400 yards on each side of the overflowing river were affected. So that much land needs to be searched, for miles and miles down the river.

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We searched for anything unusual, photographed each item with geotracking, and marked all large piles and areas searched. Beyond hundreds of random items and belongings, my path crossed a dead puppy, several dead squirrels, tons of dead fish, and about ten live snakes.

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I do not like live snakes.

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I walked alone for most of the time and kept my eyes open while searching for anything and meditating on peace and love and light.

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I hoped…and continue to hope…for continual waves of peace and love and light for all the family and friends of the victims.

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This is a tall order. There is so much ahead for them. And there’s a lot of ground to cover.

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Kristin said: “Hiking the search area is physically and emotionally exhausting. Please lift all of those working day and night up in prayer- it is essential. I can’t even imagine how spent the families feel- extra prayers for them.”

I think this really sums it up. I was so very exhausted when I arrived home. I truly can’t get my brain around how family and friends of lost loved ones are moving and feeling right now.

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It was an intense day. And one of many to come. Like I said, I spent most of the day on my own, even within my own small group, but along the way we met others who were there helping the search. So many people, all strangers, coming together to help families that most of us don’t know. We even ran across some New York Times reporters, a very strange and surreal occurrence in Martindale, Texas.

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They were very kind and respectful to everyone who was there for so many different reasons. They asked quick questions and went out of their way to join in and stay out of the way, all while doing their jobs. We were a tough crowd, no one really wanting to be in the paper, everyone concentrating on the land below us and in our own headspace. Here is their resulting story:  Hundreds Form Search Parties to Seek Survivors in Texas Floods.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 8.00.44 AM

 Image Credit: Tamir Kalifa for the New York Times

 It’s a really thorough article that begins to touch on how tough this search, recovery and clean up is going to be. Like I said, as small as these sweet Central Texas towns are, the river area to cover is far and wide. And like everyone, I hope it is all over…and everyone is found…soon.

For ongoing coverage on search and rescue efforts…with continual updates…check out this Corpus Christi Caller Times link.  They are actually reporting things way ahead of other outlets at this point. My brother had heard from the local County Commissioner that a woman had been found in Martindale on Tuesday. It wasn’t reported until yesterday, except for on the Caller Times site. It turns out it was Michelle Carey Charba. Debbie Bennet (pictured above) received a call with this news while we were searching. Since then, we have heard from local friends that other people were found. We are waiting to hear official reports. At this point uncertainty and miscommunications are part of the search so we’ll be patient and wait to find the answers as they come.

But the searches continue. If you want to help this family and in their rescue efforts, and you are local, they are calling for more volunteers this weekend. Wear your boots, and be prepared for a physical and long day. Groups are meeting at the Wimberley Baptist Church throughout the day. If you are not local, but would like to help in some way….the search for the missing people is being run by the families. The cost for air support is 100K a day. They need to keep the helicopters in the air, the airboats in the river and the dogs on the ground. This is the only funding campaign sanctioned by the family. UPDATE: Here is a Wimberley Rescue site that was just created and includes all information about volunteering, helping and contributing to the search.

There are also a number of groups who need help that we have listed here.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Anne Lupton May 28, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, but mostly, thank you for taking part in the search. I know my friend David and all his family – as well as the other families affected – appreciate all that the search parties are doing to find their loved ones. I’m sad beyond words for all of them, but I take comfort that so many are pitching in to help. God bless you all.

  • Reply Jenny, Bloggess May 28, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I wish I was there so I could just hug you. Come to my house and I will feed you takeout. Donating now, sweet friend.

    Love you. Love your parents. Love to everyone out there going through hell.

  • Reply Kelly May 29, 2015 at 4:29 am

    I didn’t understand from the news reports of the immense scale of the flood. It’s so devastating. Thank you so much for sharing this and your photos. Sending love and prayers to you and everyone affected.

  • Reply Brene Brown May 29, 2015 at 11:19 am

    I’m with Jenny. Come over. Send Harry for the weekend. He can hang with Charlie.

    Sending love and light. And money.

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