By Vicki Poore
I will never forget that night. My husband and I had just gone to bed a little after midnight. I was worried about my parents, who lived off the Guadalupe River in Seguin, but I never could get ahold of them by phone. I never thought to worry about myself.
The fire trucks started going through our neighborhood about 1 a.m., telling everyone to evacuate. I couldnt believe it, we lived a mile from the water, which is normally a little creek. My husband ran out to check and sure enough, they meant us!
I understand that they had to tell some of our neighbors to leave point-blank. Some would not leave at all. My husband and I were in the same frame of mind with two small children, we loaded up and got the heck out of there. Things can be replaced; people cant. Funny, the things you grab. We started loading both of our Explorers with blankets, clothes, and food, and of course our pictures in a big laundry basket!
I remember running through the house, throwing stuff up on top of the beds in case the water only rose a foot or so. I couldnt believe that as far as we live from the water we were maybe the fifth family at the elementary school shelter. My son, 4 years old at the time, never woke up all night. My 1-year-old daughter never left my side.
We watched for hours as the shelter slowly filled up, people came in with only the clothes on their backs. Toward the end, only the fire truck could get through and people were coming in hanging on to it. I still have an image of a 70-year- old woman hanging on to that truck, dressed only in her rained-soaked nightgown and having to be carried into the shelter. I was too stunned to take any pictures.
The volunteer fire department was wonderful through it all. I had our cell phone and kept trying my parents all night but never received an answer.
We wondered about the two dogs and three cats we had left behind. I ended up giving a lot of my childrens clothes to some of the kids who were brought in soaking wet. There was a community table of food set up and everyone willingly shared their food. Many older folks talked about the previous flood and how the high water rose back then. It was amazing; most people just wanted to talk. Any news was better than no news.
The darkness just added to the fear. When daylight broke that Sunday morning, everything just seemed better, until so many folks found out how bad the waters had damaged their homes and possessions, especially those on River Road here in LaVernia.
We were lucky; our home was on a higher ridge and didnt get water anywhere near it. Our neighbors down on Forest Street werent so lucky. Even though we were in our home, Sunday by noon, the sights and sounds of the flood didnt stop. Many folks down on Dry Hollow, for one reason or another, hadnt left their homes. Volunteers had to cut fence lines going back to allow some of the livestock a chance to escape. I have pictures of my neighbor standing beside his chain-link fence where cows from deep in the fields had come to escape the water.
The volunteers were asking for any kind of water vehicles to go get folks and animals stranded by the water. The noise of helicopters continually flying over our home was a constant reminder of those folks who werent as lucky as us.
People very generously brought food and drinks to those volunteers going back and forth. One volunteer told of a man who was sitting on top of the roof of his flooded home but refused to leave. Many things, particularly round bales of hay, went floating past. I have a picture of a volunteer, sitting wearily in his boat, which is tied to a neighbors mailbox. Its a constant reminder of the humanity that we all have for each other, and what we could have lost.