Hill Country View, May 2018
More Than a Transaction
"Usually in a flood, when you stop hearing the creek, that’s when you know the river is backing it up,” says Wimberley artist and real estate broker Pam Lamoureux. "Then it goes real quiet and eerie, and you watch the water’s edge to see how high it’s getting, and it just kind of inches forward.
Pam looks out over Cypress Creek from her and her husband Donn’s new treehouse-liken home-now elevated 12 feet. The couple has lived at the Cypress Creek and Blanco River junction since the late 80’s. Over the years the family has weathered many floods, but none quite like the Memorial Day Flood of 2015.
“It was midnight and there was no moon, so it was pitch black,” Pam continues. “People kept saying it was coming, and nothing was coming. We kept thinking ‘We can still hear the creek,’ but that was because the river was absolutely raging this time. We barely got out.”
Pam and Donn returned to their home the next morning to find their ceilings collapsed and their belongings buried in at least a foot of slick, stinking mud. They had all of three days to salvage their most precious possessions before the mold took over.
Down the river, Bob and Janelle Flocke stood in their driveway, gaping at the remains of the house the designed together. They, too, had barely escaped with their lives as the highest flood so far recorded in the state of Texas turned the usually-calm Blanco River into a devouring monster.
“We didn’t know what to do,” says Janelle, a retired civilian employee for the U.S. Department of Defense who now runs European collectables shop Aunt Jenny’s Attic on the Wimberley square. “We’d both helped plan for emergencies for the federal government and for the city, but when it’s your stuff, it’s totally different.”
Neighbors showed up to help Janelle and Bob, a U.S. Army veteran and Wimberley’s mayor from 2010 to 2015, dig their belongings out of the muck.
Our Chairs and our People
Specialty craftsman Gary Weeks, his son Austin and their colleagues have been building custom rocking chairs, dining tables and chairs, footstools and other solid wood furniture pieces in his Wimberley-based workshop since the early ‘90s.
Gary and his family live and work on higher ground, but when he witnessed the devastation of his neighbors’ properties closer to the river, he began calling local clients, offering to restore at no cost any Weeks furniture that had been damaged in the flood through a process of re-sanding and refinishing.
‘When we sell something to somebody, it’s not just a transaction,” Gary says. “Given that, we had to go see about our chairs and our people.”
Pam and Donn purchased their pecan Weeks rocker in 1992 when Pam was pregnant with their second child. After the flood, they discovered the rocker buried in the rubble. Now it’s back in service, thanks to Gary. “It’s a beautiful restoration and we are so grateful to have it back,” Pam says. “It’s a part of our family.”
Bob and Janelle’s cherry rocker, which Janelle bought for Bob in 2007 as a Father’s Day present, was almost swept out of their home by the torrent, but a floating mattress miraculously blocked its exit, even as the doors were torn from their hinges. “When you’re trying to rebuild your life and your house, every little piece that you can save is important,” saya Janelle. “It’s amazing because we had other solid wood furniture that washed away.”
“And everything with particle board was ruined,” Bob adds.
Janelle nods. “It was meant to be saved.”