May 18th through May 24th, 2015
The Blanco River Floods
Whatever else may have been happening on the ranch this week, it was all overshadowed by the incredible act of nature that took place on Saturday May 23rd. The area had been wet and rain soaked for the last few months, and then on Saturday a huge storm blew through the Hill Country. This storm system dropped nearly 6 inches of rain here at the ranch in just about an hour, and other areas of the Hill Country received as much or more rain in the same period.
All of this rain in such a short time on already rain soaked ground led to massive run-off. High water crossings in the hills started to be flooded, and then it all converged on the major waterway through the area, the Blanco River. Like the speed of the rain falling, the river rose to flood stage and beyond in a matter of minutes. At about 1AM on Sunday morning a wall of water at times 44 feet tall roared down the Blanco river remaking everything in its path.
The solid concrete bridge that carries us from our ranch to the town of Blanco was ripped from its foundations, shattered into several pieces and strewn downriver. Cypress trees were stripped bare of their bark or knocked over and carried down stream to serve as battering rams to knock down houses and trees further along the way. The river spread wide on the lower plains, a rushing lake of water and churned back up as the walls of the river basin rose again. In Wimberley, the flood waters surpassed the record which had stood for nearly a hundred years by over eleven feet and another bridge was struck and crumbled. The water kept going, down into San Marcos, filling the center of town, flooding over the freeway that connects Austin and San Antonio, and spreading across Martindale.
Hundreds of houses and thousands of trees were swept up in the flood waters. Cliff walls crumbed and took new shape, pebble beaches were reformed. Wildlife, livestock, pets, and people were caught up in and washed away by the rushing river. The power of the river was awe inspiring and terrible. As the people of the Blanco River basin begin to rebuild, I am simply dumbstruck by the power of that river. Lives were lost, homes were ruined, and the very shape of the land has been changed. People are coming together to help reshape our Hill Country community. The river is settling down into its new banks. The bridges will be rebuilt. Still, it is wonderful and frightening how much we are at the mercy of this grand thing so much greater than ourselves, the river and mother nature who rules her.