The Guadalupe River runs 230 miles, from its origin in Kerr County, Texas, to San Antonio Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. My now sainted mother and father bought and moved into a home at 1480 Sleepy Hollow Dr. on the river in New Braunfels following the 100 year flood of 1972.
That flood ruined the interior of the home but its structure was sound. Mom and Dad spent weekends and summer vacations for several years driving 175 miles from their apartment home in Houston to New Braunfels to restore the home to livable condition.
They made the permanent move to Sleepy Hollow after Dad’s retirement April 17, 1979, and resided there together until he died January 1, 1983. Mom lived there, alone, for nearly 16 more years, enjoying the beautiful white water rapids and huge cypress trees lining the river.
Then came October, 17, 1998, twenty-one years ago today. The Guadalupe River in New Braunfels experienced its second 100 year flood in little more than a quarter of a century. The raging waters of that flood rose eight feet above the roof of Mother’s home. It left a trail of damage, destruction, and putrid silt that covered literally everything in its wake.
Huge bulky items such as automobiles, player pianos, freezers, etc., were washed down the river, some of them never to be seen again. Amazingly, fragile items like drinking glasses and Mother’s prized possessions of about 100 intricately and delicately decorated emu and ostrich eggs were still intact, but buried in black silt. Family, friends, neighbors, and strangers helped recover many such items.
Mom was alerted and evacuated by her insurance agent just before the flood arrived. She took with her the rolls she had made for a church bake sale and her purse, but not much more. Exactly four months later, February 17, 1999, she suffered a minor stroke. By the grace of God it left no major effects.
After a period of homelessness, waiting for payment of flood insurance, and buying a permanent home in a local subdivision, Mom made the decision to demolish her spacious home on the river, which had been damaged beyond repair, and build a summer home in its place.
Shortly after its completion, that home was destroyed by the third so-called 100 year flood. Mom relinquished the remains of that home and sold her irreplaceable lot on the Guadalupe River.
That beautiful body of crystal clear and refreshingly cool water turned into a raging, mean, ruthless, agent of destruction again in 2004, 2010, and 2015. Not all these floods were as disastrous as those of 1972, 1998, and 2002, but still caused significant flooding.
These disasters, like the hurricanes and floods we’ve experienced in Texas and beyond in recent times, are stark reminders of the value of life and the temporary nature of things we own.
Though I thank God for both, life is most certainly of greater value than even the sentimentally and emotionally valuable possessions destroyed in hurricanes and 100 year floods.
Praise God for the precious gift of life!