Look for the Helpers: Lake Lends a Hand

The volatile Texas weather of Tuesday night brought the unimaginable to 117 homes off of FM 2843 in the Buttermilk Creek area of Salado.

Accounts of destruction began to circulate on social media immediately. As the photos of rubble and loss began to pour in, Lake Belton’s Matt Blackburn felt the need to help.

A plan was quickly thrown together, and a group of nearly 50 answered his call.

The vehicles began to arrive early Good Friday morning, and from them 35 Bronco student-athletes, their parents and coaches emerged.

Although they came outfitted with work gloves and the will to make a difference, no one was ready for exactly what their eyes were seeing.

“It honestly looked like a war zone, as if a bomb had been dropped. The poor homeowners looked so tired and helpless. There were people around just crying…” said Matt Blackburn.

It’s so hard to imagine, but the tornado was a quarter of a mile wide and on the ground for 8 miles. The 160-mile-per-hour winds ripped everything to shreds.

Telephone poles were nowhere to be found, trees were totally uprooted, and the ones that did remain were bald as a winter’s day. Only tile remained in what was once someone’s lovely kitchen. Cars were flipped over and on top of each other, and houses were scattered about like a spilled box of matches.

The volunteers set out with the intention of helping one family, but when they arrived the homeowner said, “I’ve got it pretty bad, but my neighbors have it worse, they could use the help more than I can.”

They followed him through a small field strewn with rubble, and shortly came upon what once was his neighbor’s home. There were no standing walls.

For the next several hours they stood among the remains of a family’s entire life. As they tried to help pile brick, sheetrock, trees, and lumber they’d stumble upon silver certificates, tools, household supplies, photographs, clothing, trophies, shoes, kitchen appliances… everything was lost. The homeowners were even searching for missing military medals.

“I really felt useless, I can’t believe how bad it was… very humbling.” -Jamie Tibbetts, Lake Soccer

photo credits: Amy Torres & Matt Blackburn

I’m reminded of the great quote from Mr. Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." Thank you to this group for being our helpers. You're our inspiration in times of hardship.

Heavy lifting and heavy hearts (photo by Amy Torres)

The help provided by this group from Lake Belton High School was just a tiny drop in the bucket of what these families need. Not all of us can organize a group or volunteer, but we can all click a link!

Do you know of other ways we can help fill needs locally? Contact me amy@35live.media