From the first moment of the Memorial Day weekend disaster, dedicated Wimberley volunteers have been coordinating a massive relief and response effort: running the relief center at Bridges Gym; providing information distribution at Brookshire Brothers and other local outlets; assisting with financial needs through distribution of cash and gift cards; supporting volunteer response efforts through the VRC; coordinating food preparation and delivery, and more. Wimberley ISD, Cypress Creek Church, Ace Hardware, and First Baptist Church virtually shut down “business as usual” to devote time, space, and resources to flood survivors. In less than two months, local volunteers have documented almost 68,000 hours. Federal and state disaster response teams have frequently expressed their amazement at the outstanding organization, care, and response from the Wimberley community.
Now, as Wimberley Valley enters into the long-term recovery phase, local leaders, along with the newly formed Blanco River Regional Recovery Team, have been meeting frequently to address concerns and plan the next steps. Vicki McCuistion, The Barnabas Connection Executive Director, is representing Wimberley on this 12-member Regional Recovery Team, which also includes leaders from Blanco, Caldwell, Hays and Guadalupe Counties. The team was tasked with developing a regional organization to work on the long-term relief and rebuilding efforts in cooperation with other local and national organizations.
Two Wimberley non-profit organizations have provided financial assistance to local flood survivors: My Neighbors Keeper and The Barnabas Connection.
My Neighbors Keeper, a short-term emergency funding organization (5013c), has received $300,000 in donations and has funded $265,000 in checks directly to Wimberley residents affected by the Memorial Day flood. MyNK shifted from short-term to long-term two weeks after funding began and more than 90 families have received funding. Applications for assistance are available at their website at mynkwimberley.org, at the VRC, or from any member of the MyNK board. A five-member volunteer advisory board consisting of Christy Degenhardt, Traci Maxwell, Ken Strange, Jo Hackett, and Courtney Goss, who have been involved since early morning of the flood, assists MyNK in approving applications and funding. Donations can be received through MyNK’s website by credit card or Paypal, direct deposited to Ozona Bank, or mailed to MyNK, P.O. Box 1532, Wimberley, TX 78676. 100% of all donations go to residents of the Wimberley Valley.
The Barnabas Connection has received just under $800,000 in financial donations of cash and gift cards through the end of June. The State Disaster Relief Coordinator, Anna Tangredi, advised the Barnabas Connection to reserve the bulk of these donated funds for long-term recovery and rebuilding. Vicki McCuistion noted, “As amazed and humbled as we are with the generosity of these donations and support from around the world, we have yet to determine the full scope of the need in Wimberley Valley but expect that the need will be in the multi-million-dollar range to provide rebuilding assistance. The funds collected by the Barnabas Connection will be distributed through the case management process to help avoid duplication and fully identify unmet needs, and are designated for families in the Wimberley Valley.” Approximately $77,000 has been given out for short-term financial assistance to survivors at Bridges Gym and now the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) at Danforth Junior High and also to purchase tools and supplies to be accessed through the Volunteer Relief Center (VRC).
The Barnabas Connection has assisted 285 local families, representing almost 600 people. In addition, Barnabas volunteers have worked hundreds if not thousands of hours assisting survivors at Bridges Gym and the Barnabas table at the FEMA DRC. Volunteers have provided vetted information at Brookshire Brothers, through the Wimberley Flood Information 2015 Facebook page, and through the daily information sheets from the City of Wimberley, distributed to multiple locations in the first several weeks. Volunteers continue to work on survivor services and information distribution. Donations to the Barnabas Connection flood relief efforts can be made at Ozona Bank, online at barnabasconnects.org, or mailed to: The Barnabas Connection Flood Relief, P.O. Box 737, Wimberley, TX 78676.
Survivors (all renters and homeowners) are strongly encouraged to apply for FEMA assistance, even if expecting a denial. FEMA, personal insurance, SBA, and local assistance will play a role in the case management process. If you are a flood-affected renter or homeowner and have questions regarding your status for assistance, please go to the Disaster Recovery Center currently at the Danforth Junior High.
Appointments are being scheduled by the Barnabas Connection to begin case work for Wimberley families. To make an appointment with the Barnabas Connection for long-term recovery casework please visit the Barnabas table at the DRC at Danforth on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 1:00 to 5:00pm, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and a volunteer will call you to schedule an appointment.