Remember the Blanco River floods over Memorial Day weekend last year? The survivors sure do — because many of them are still living it.
When the TV cameras moved on to something fresher and more exciting, the flooded residents were still stuck with ruined belongings, moldy houses, or no houses at all. The Methodist churches in the area are doing what they can (many of the recovery leaders are Methodists) but their funds are running thin and the end isn’t yet in sight.
Many residents have been taken care of. They were the easy ones…the ones with insurance, money in the bank, or damages light enough to be covered by federal assistance. As always, it’s the poor who received minimal help, who are living in unhealthy houses, who are trying to make a home in a converted carport. Why live like that? Affordable housing is almost impossible to find in Wimberley and San Marcos.
Many got hit with a second shot last fall, when flooding came through again, and those who had sunk their savings in repairing their homes and replacing possessions saw it happen all over again, but this time without a financial cushion.
So increasing numbers are giving up and leaving. You can buy their house for the value of the lot, but you still need to rehab — or bulldoze — the house they leave behind.
A big Community Development Block Grant is on its way, but it goes to local government, and will be spread over lots of other things, like road and bridge repairs, in addition to helping families. Besides, CDBG money has lots of strings attached, making many residents — especially the poor — ineligible for help.
Our churches, and the umbrella recovery group, the Blanco River Regional Recovery Team, are trying to stretch their dollars by spending for materials and using volunteers for labor. Problem is, the dollars are running short, and volunteers are being distracted by newer headline disasters.
Dishearteningly, the preponderance of volunteers have come from outside the area. Few teams have come from our own Hill Country District churches. That’s a dangerous precedent to set: reliance on strangers, rather than neighbors, for help in disasters.
So what can we do? Send work teams. Send money.
Work teams: Coordination is through the BRRRT, 512-677-9701, BlancoRiverRegional@gmail.com. They’ll be happy to schedule you in — one person or a dozen, for a few weeks or a few days. Can’t go right now? Call anyway; they’re taking reservations into winter.
Money: Although the BRRRT will gladly accept whatever comes their way, the official Methodist way is to route your donation through the Rio Texas Conference, Advance Special 2050. You can make sure it goes where it needs to by marking it for Blanco River Flood Recovery, or specify one of our churches involved in the recovery, FUMC San Marcos, El Buen Pastor in San Marcos, and Wimberley UMC. You can specify the community your gift is to be used in.
Short version: Your neighbors here in our district need your help. They’ve been hanging on for more than a year, but are running out of time and money. You and your church can give them both. Please do.