Texas Governor Greg Abbott took a helicopter tour of the areas devastated by weekend floods yesterday, which culminated in a disaster declaration in 24 counties in Texas. Hundreds of families in Wimberley lost everything, and more than 1,000 were in shelters Monday night. Two are confirmed dead in Hays County.
Update 3:30 p.m. Earlier today, 30 were still unaccounted for in the county, but sources are starting to report that most of those have been contacted. Thirteen are supposedly still missing.
Update 3 p.m. Gov. Abbott has added 8 more counties to the state disaster declaration. You can view a full list of counties, and the governor's statement, here.
Update 1:15 p.m. In a press conference in Wimberley this afternoon, Hays County officials said that there are still 30 people unaccounted for in the wake of the weekend's storms. Hays County Commissioner called the storm a "tsunami." President Obama declared Texas an official disaster area, which opens the door to the state receiving federal funding for recovery.
Original story: Still, after a record flood of the Blanco River, more rain is expected to fall throughout the week as those in the town continue rescue and clean-up efforts.
But, yesterday, one family celebrated Memorial Day as they always do – together – in spite of the floods that ravaged their home.
The Krotzer family always gets together for Memorial Day and, while this Memorial Day was different, the family still came together. About 20 of them gathered, but there was no party or celebration like there normally is.
They were all-hands-on-deck, cleaning the family home. Some helped drag out muddy furniture, others tried to salvage family photos. The Krotzers live right on Cypress Creek, and family patriarch Phil Krotzer says this isn’t their first Wimberley flood.
“We have a picture of the Sacred Heart above the fireplace, and that's our miracle picture,” he says, adding that he found it floating in the mud after their first flood 20 years ago. “And we picked it up, and there wasn't a stain on it. As you can see it's in perfect condition. So, that's our miracle picture. It's helped us through – our faith – has helped us through a lot.”
This is the third major flood the Krotzers have survived, but yesterday’s heavy rains and a rainy forecast this week for much of Central Texas could make a bad situation worse. At yesterday’s press conference, Gov. Greg Abbott warned that the devastation may come in stages, suggesting that local authorities “alert citizens in [their] particular counties and communities about the hazards and dangers that may be coming your way.”
Those dangers will likely continue pouring in as rivers and creeks continue to fill up after non-stop rains. In Wimberley, authorities and rescue crews from surrounding cities continued evacuating residents who live in waterfront properties.
The National Guard is assisting local search and rescue teams and the state's emergency team, Texas Task Force 1, along the Blanco River.
President Obama spoke earlier with Gov. Abbott about the flooding. The President said today in a statement that Abbott could "count on the help of the federal government. We have FEMA personnel already on the ground. They are coordinating with Texas emergency management authorities, and I will anticipate that there will be some significant requests made to Washington. My pledge to him is that we will expedite those requests.”
The governor's office says Abbott is traveling this afternoon to Houston to address the post-storm damage and floods there.
The city of Wimberley says on its website that it is organizing a clean-up on private properties, but is asking residents to begin efforts if possible, suggesting debris be set on curbs, or on grassy areas in front of ditches, in separate piles:
· branches, leaves, and other vegetative materials that can go into a wood chipper
· metal and related materials suitable for recycling
· glass (gather glass carefully; before you set it out, double-bag it to avoid accidents)
· lumber, insulation, bricks, siding, and other debris from buildings
· furniture and other large items
· appliances (use duct tape to hold refrigerators and freezers closed)
· ruined clothing and furnishings
The city says materials like paints, batteries and pesticides should not be left out for debris collection.
Wimberley is also cautioning those who have ventured into flood waters to get tetanus boosters.
If you have been exposed to the flood waters and haven't had a tetanus shot in the last five years it's recommended that you get one
— Wimberley Fire Dept (@WimberleyFD) May 26, 2015