The search for ‘new normal’ after Wimberley flood

Statue of an angel sits over the debris along the Blanco River. (KXAN Photo/Rachel Glaser)
Statue of an angel sits over the debris along the Blanco River. (KXAN Photo/Rachel Glaser)

WIMBERLEY, Texas (Nexstar) — One year after the devastating Memorial Day flood, some Wimberley residents are still trying to rebuild while others aren’t ready to return.

“They said we are so devastated by this we just, we just can’t move, we can’t even think,” Tina Sabuca said of her friends who used to live on the other side of the water. “I keep using the word unimaginable, it just feels like it is.”

Heavy rains triggered a major flash flood in Wimberley during the early morning hours of May 24, 2015. When the water receded back below the banks of the Blanco River, the damage was almost too much to believe. Many of the homes along the river were damaged, some were shoved off the foundations while others were swept away completely.

“It was really devastating, unbelievable… It still is,” Greg Jordan said.

He lived through the flood and he sees the damage every day, still the aftermath doesn’t feel real. Jordan is a contractor who lives and works in Wimberely. He’s spent the last year helping his neighbors rebuild their homes, knowing there are some things that cannot be fixed.

The floods left behind millions of dollars in damages, but the waters took much more from this community. Twelve lives were lost in the flood and two children were never found.

People who call Wimberley home continue to struggle to find a sense of normalcy, haunted by the devastation of the flood.

“You just want to be able to turn back time and be able to do things different if we could,” Sabuca said.

Recent rains bring back bad memories for people who live in the area.

“A lot of people are experiencing a certain about of PTSD as a result of the flood. Whenever it rains and whenever there is lightning and thunder it brings back a lot of bad memories for people,” said Jordan.

Sounds of the Blanco River continue on, the constant flow of noise that once brought a sense of comfort is overpowered by the sound of power tools and construction crews.

“If you drive down there now today you’ll see a lot of empty slabs. There were just a lot of foundations that were never rebuilt on,” Jordan said. “It’s got deep, everlasting scars that people are going to be dealing with for years.”

Some scars are more visible than others but the pain in the community runs deep. “A lot people are just selling their property and investors or people are coming in to buy the property,” Jordan said.

Since the flood, Wimberley looks and feels different, but to him it is still home. “It’s still a really beautiful place, it’s just different now,” Jordan said.

Beyond the devastation, Sabuca said she still sees the beauty—now she’s just in search of a “new normal” in Wimberley.

“I can only think hopefully that’s never going to happen again,” Sabuca said.

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