Beginning on October 16, heavy rain inundated parts of Central Texas causing the Llano River to rise to catastrophic levels and rip through communities in the Texas Hill Country including Kingsland, Texas. As the situation began building, the American Red Cross began deploying volunteers and emergency response vehicles to assist residents in need in various locations.
After the team of Red Cross volunteers met with community partners and government officials to assess the community’s needs, the Red Cross began providing food, water and emergency supplies to first responders and residents in evacuation shelters.
As the Red Cross assisted families affected by the devastating floods, many began sharing their stories.
On the first day of the historical event, as flood waters began rising quickly along Lake LBJ, Nancy Biggerstaff and her brother Jim Jackson were in a desperate race to save their 92-year-old family matriarch, Doris Biggerstaff.
“My sister Nancy came and said, ‘Get mom of there, the Llano is flooding,’” Jim recalled. “We went in the house to get my mother, by the time we got her out to the car, the water was up to our knees.”
Within a matter of hours, flood waters rose more than four feet in Doris’ home on Campa Pajama Lane in Kingsland, TX.
The family was able to get Doris to safety, but the flooding caused extensive damage to the house that several generations of the Biggerstaff family members called home.
Red Cross volunteers were conducting Damage Assessments throughout the area when they met the Biggerstaff family as they were clearing out Doris’ home and going through precious mementos like family photographs.
Having previously lost family photographs during a flood in 1997, Jim gingerly wiped mud and dirt off the delicate keepsakes.
“Here’s one of Joey,” Jim said pointing to a photo of his deceased younger brother, “he was a really cool guy. We’re trying to save as many photos as we can.”
As Joel Biggerstaff, Doris’ grandson, trudged through the mud that covered the floors, he reminisced about growing up in the lakeside home.
“I used to ride my dirt bike up and down Campa Pajama, we used to play by the lake all the time, it was like having our own personal playground,” Joel said.
One Damage Assessment volunteer, Judith Kitchen assessed the damage to the Biggerstaff’s home and measured a water line more than four feet high that coated a wall in the family dining room.
Having experienced flooding to her own community during the flooding in Wimberley, TX in 2015, Judith is familiar with the feeling of having the Red Cross present after a disaster.
“You can just feel that people are thankful that we’re there,” Judith said. “Everybody knows who the Red Cross is and they’re happy for our help.”
The home brought the family together again, but this time to clean up after the floods. The gravity of the situation failed to dampen the spirits of the family who were grateful that everyone was safe.
As the Red Cross continues to visit homes in neighborhoods affected by the devastating floods, more families like the Biggerstaffs are still in need.
You can help people affected by disasters like the flooding in Central Texas by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief.
Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.