For years a lone window frame hanged from high up in a pecan tree near the intersection of South Esplanade and West Heaton streets in Cuero.
Often times I wondered why the property owner or the city didn’t take it down.
But the longer it was there, the more it became a reminder to me of the worst disaster in the city’s history.
The window frame was a remnant of the October 1998 flood that covered rooftops of houses miles from the river in Cuero.
I was the Advocate bureau reporter in Cuero when the flood hit.
As I reported on the flood’s arrival, I saw water rising in a neighborhood – a block from a church where a funeral was going on.
For days as the water sat in streets and homes, I reported on people in the shelters who did not know what was happening to their homes and belonging.
As the water receded, we saw homes sitting in streets or in pastures down river; cows on roofs and hanging from the trestle bridge; and big chunks of roads missing.
Days later as people were allowed back into their neighborhoods, people returned home to find their homes gone or their possessions ruined by river water and mud.
The stench of rotting food mixed with stale river water filled the air.
In true small town fashion people pulled together to help one another.
Local residents whose homes were safe volunteered; city employees and law enforcement stayed on the job as their families dealt with their damaged homes; civic groups pitched in; mobile kitchens came to town as did volunteer groups who helped rebuild. The Red Cross, FEMA, Salvation Army and the National Guard stayed for months.
Neighboring towns pitched in with clothing drives and total strangers donated money and supplies to help with the recovery.
The Methodist Church opened it doors to the church that was flooded after the funeral service. The two congregations merged and are one today.
Tears of joy were shed as residents moved back home, with most rebuilding in their pre-flood neighborhoods.
The recovery took time, but the community spirit did not wane.
At some point in the last few years, the window frame came down from the tree – I don’t know when or how. I still catch my eyes moving toward that tree when I drive by and my mind flashes back to 15 years when the community pulled together to rebuild Cuero.
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