Much like raising children, running for office truly takes a village. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a great staff and an entire community of volunteers who give freely of their time and energy in all sorts of ways. But this weekend, we all got a deeper appreciation of how to be a village.
One of my volunteers, a local math and physics instructor named Virginia Roberts, helped coordinate a clean-up event to help some of the people whose homes were damaged by the recent heavy rains. Members of my campaign and I were eager to pay forward the volunteer efforts we receive. So Sunday morning, we headed out to Southeast Austin to property just off Bluff Springs Road to help with the clean-up.
What we saw was truly devastating.
There was debris everywhere: downed tree branches, giant barrels, a huge mountain of tires that washed away from a neighboring mechanic’s shop. There was rubble up in the trees which indicated to us just how high the floodwaters rose. We even saw a horse lying dead in the creek. The whole scene was truly heart wrenching.
One of the people we were able to help was a neat young woman named Lexi. Lexi, who is completing her certification to be a massage therapist, had just moved into a trailer near Onion Creek two days--TWO DAYS--before the flood. She hadn’t even finished unpacking her boxes. Lexi’s trailer was flooded. Some parts of her life were forever lost, washed away by the water. What dry belongings she managed to salvage she packed into her car. But so many of Lexi’s things were damaged.
Lexi and I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon scrubbing the mud and muck off her things. We hung up to dry on a fence or a car door anything that was still damp. Other things, which were not damaged or wet, we packed into giant heavy-duty trash bags. Just imagine all your possessions--some ruined, some lost, packed in trash bags in your car. Lexi was so overwhelmed by the disaster and still seemed somewhat in shock, but she maintained a wonderful attitude about it all and expressed her appreciation. I wouldn’t call Lexi a “victim.” It takes a certain kind of strength to pick up the pieces of your life that are left when so much of it is inexplicably carried away.
Every single volunteer who assisted with the clean-up should know what a difference each of them made. Such simple acts of kindness were a major help to those who were displaced. Being part of the clean-up was incredibly gratifying.
But, the people who live in the affected neighborhoods still need so much help. You can give in a variety of ways. Below are links to various organizations to which you can give of your time or money to help people like Lexi.
It all reminds me how grateful I am to my own volunteers.
Thank you for reading!
Austin Disaster Relief Network
You can also mail a donation to:
Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN)
PO Box 3817, Cedar Park, TX 78630
Attn: Central TX Flood Relief Fund
Capitol Area Food Bank
American Red Cross of Central Texas
2218 Pershing Drive
Austin TX 78723
Oak Meadow Baptist Church
6905 S. IH 35
River City Youth Foundation
5209 S. Pleasant Valley