Wimberley: Picking Up the Pieces After the Floods

Texas Standard talks with journalist Richard Parker live from Wimberley.

June 2, 2015 3:25 pm,

It’s been a week since deadly floods slammed Texas. With oncoming drier weather, many communities are beginning to assess their damages and put the pieces back together. One of the communities hit the hardest is the town of Wimberley, nestled right next to the Blanco River. Texas Standard spoke with Richard Parker, a journalist covering the floods for The Atlantic and The Dallas Morning News.

Parker on the current scene:

“It’s shockingly bad, actually. I’d love to put a prettier shade of lipstick on it, but I’ve covered three wars and two hurricanes and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. The folks who got flooded out now number about 200. The number of homes that were affected is well over a thousand — I think it’s over 1,200 at this point. There are still people missing, and there are increasingly people who are being accounted for as dead; I think it’s 11 so far.”

On the scope of the disaster:

“Most of us, myself included, were really only inconvenienced. Wimberley has a population of nearly 2,300 people, so of 200 homes impacted, you know, that’s not a huge number in the Valley. But it’s big enough that there isn’t anybody you don’t know who wasn’t affected.”

On problems residents face:

“To paint you a picture, basically people have to empty out the entire contents of their homes, and are now ripping out the drywall to try to reclaim them. People’s belongings — their furniture, artwork, memorabilia, personal items, clothing, cars, refrigerators, stoves are all sort of stacked ignominiously on the street, waiting for pickup.”

On citizens coming together to rebuild:

“I ran into a woman at the public library…she wasn’t even affiliated with a local church, but she was helping them coordinate an 18-wheeler coming from Tennessee with supplies to be handed out. So there’s a great deal of that, and I think that people in the town are pulling together. I don’t think it’s quite as simple a story as…after a week, everybody has cleaned up and town moves on. I think the effects are more lasting.”

On how long the recovery will take:

“For the people whose homes were destroyed or flooded…I think they’re looking at a minimum of months. And if their homes were destroyed…then those will never be replaced. People like to live in a town like Wimberley because it is, as it bills itself to tourists, a little bit of paradise. And that’s gonna take a long time to replace. That’s not a week, or a month, or in some cases even a year.”