Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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From the Pen of Louie Bond

“Each magnificent tree had its own tragic sound as it broke, a different pitch and volume. The first few breaks came slowly. I didn’t want to believe that sound was a tree. A blessed few moments, when only the freight-train roar of the river was heard, and then the deepest, most gut-wrenching sounds of all. Undeniably trees. The cypress trees.  

“8, 9, 10 ... 11, 12, 13… 141516171819. Oh my God, no. I tried to stop counting. These trees were under 40 feet of water. How could I possibly hear them? Did my huge pecan break first and then get ripped out, taproot and all? Did it leave its home quietly? On what number of my count did it abandon me? Slowly, the roar of the river was the only sound again.”

Wimberley’s Caroline French Rolling is one of many who endured the historic Memorial Day flood of 2015, when the usually calm, green waters of the Blanco River rose like a monster of the night and scoured the riparian area of 500-year-old trees, including the river’s distinctive line of cypress. Those who lived along the river like Rolling not only heard the roar of the raging river and the snapping of ancient trunks, they listened in horror to the screams of those swept away, sounds that haunt their dreams even today. Rolling posted her recollections of that living nightmare on social media as the first anniversary approached on May 23 of this year. Others did as well, a sort of public catharsis, poking at the wounds that haven’t really healed yet, and may never.

While those broken hearts and troubled minds may be difficult to see, the scarred banks of the Blanco still reveal a gaping wound. Where once the graceful cypress trees stood sentinel, the jagged remains of trunks and roots jut up from jumbled debris, providing a visual reminder to folks who really don’t need one. Our hearts are buried within those twisted tangles along the riverbank, forever pierced by those unforgettable sounds and the sights that remain long after those heartbreaking hours.

Many publications are remembering that tragic flood at this time, but we chose to take the TPWD approach, as always. What is the impact on our land and water, those wild places and wild things we love so much? How can we repair the damage and protect ourselves from further damage? Longtime Wimberley resident and award-winning documentarian Robert Currie helps us examine the creative steps that folks along the Blanco are taking to resolve these issues. Together, residents and volunteers are working with TPWD and other agencies to find the best way to help the Blanco heal. Their diligence and attention to “natural ways” in this slow process could be of help to other vital waterways across the state following future unforeseen disasters.

While we enjoy Independence Day at our favorite swimming hole, take a moment to appreciate the cool, clear water for all of its glorious wonder. Full to the brim, refreshingly clean and pure, heaven sent on a scorching summer day, it’s a miracle we should never take for granted.

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