In May, 2015, massive flooding devastated the Austin,Texas area. San Francisco Hillel has sent 7 students to contribute to the long-term recovery effort; here are their reflections.
Last night, I was reminded of the importance of community. As most of you know there were terrible floods in Texas this past year. The town of Wimberly was devastated with two major floods within a period of five months – making it the first time in our nation’s history a single town has experienced two federal-issued natural disaster warnings.
While the rush of the water tore structures down, it also built a sense of communal responsibility. Our group had the chance to meet with six local community members who were directly affected by the disaster: a fireman, retired law enforcement, volunteer organizers, and storm survivors. We learned Wimberley is usually divided by opposing political beliefs, yet, in a time of emergency they joined forces to recover from the flood together.The locals spoke of having to go beyond their comfort zones and discovering new passions by partaking in the relief effort. For example, one woman who said she usually stays at home and quilts, decided she needed to help her neighbors. She provided food for the first responders and volunteers all day and night, for months.
It was incredibly inspiring to hear how the region came together to support one another, and it really made me realize how important it is to belong to a community. Even if our communities are diverse and not always unified, when tragedy strikes we must set our differences aside and work together. These floods brought out the best in Wimberly. Two of the recovery volunteers, one local, one who traveled to help Wimberley, fell in love and are now dating as a result of their selflessness and compassion.
I’m fascinated by the people of Wimberly, and hope that whenever I’m faced with despair and destruction, I can follow their example by reacting with positivity, hope, and hard work. Hearing firsthand accounts from Wimberly residents inspires me to rally my SF Hillel Jewish community closer together, because now I see our potential for changing the world.