WIMBERLEY, Texas – It was Saturday, May 23, 2015 that heavy rains began to fall across the Hill Country. The forecasts called for flooding, but no one could have imagined what followed.
Eventually, record rainfall would drain into the Blanco River and sweep eastward. By Sunday morning, much of the town of Wimberley was destroyed and 12 people were killed.
"We were all awestruck,” said Jeremie Maxwell, owner of Inoz’s, a restaurant in Wimberley’s town square. “I believe that would be the best way to describe it."
When the Blanco River rose 33 feet in just three hours, Wimberley sat in the crosshairs of a fast-moving wall of water. David Achilles, a town resident, spent the night helping friends and rescuing those who lived along the river. He would help to pull an elderly couple to safety, just before water overtook their home.
“You could literally watch it rising like a bathtub and we finally told Mr. Ash, “You've got about two minutes to agree to come out, or we're going to pull you out,’” recalled Achilles.
At Maxwell’s restaurant, Ash marked the level the floodwaters reached.
But Inoz’s took on water twice in 2015. Not only on Memorial Day, but again on Halloween.
"It was three weeks that we were out of business,” said Maxwell.
Still, closing was never an option. Maxwell said they pushed hard to reopen for his employees who needed money to pay bills.
"I really do believe that it really strengthened the small businesses around here and strengthened us up as a community,” said Maxwell. “I think that's what it’s all about, coming together through tragedy and rising above."
A year later, you can still slabs where homes used to sit and tattered trees along the Blanco River. The adage “through tragedy, comes triumph” truly applies in the case of Wimberley. Not only did Maxwell and Achilles say the town is stronger, but they also say their view of humanity has changed.
"We had an army of people who showed up on that day help us, I mean people we didn’t even know,” said Maxwell.
"Every church group, every benevolence society, every organization; human beings that have no connection to this town, just showed up,” said Achilles as he recalled one instance in which an elderly couple drove all the way from Iowa to help.
"When you meet people like that…the world's OK. We'll be alright,” said Achilles.