The flood of ’98 seems like a lifetime ago. In many aspects it was.
As the raging Guadalupe River surged through the county, it ripped people’s lives apart.
The flood was devastating for so many. It affected everyone who lived here, and some of those who didn’t.
It changed everything for my family and myself.
My family owned and operated Hotshots Lake View Camp in McQueeney since 1972 — my grandparents for the first 22 years, and my parents the final four.
As this 20th anniversary rolled around, a flood of memories floated through my mind.
I was a senior at Seguin High School. We lived in the trailer directly behind the business, and I took the day off for a friend’s wedding.
There was a pit in my stomach as the sky continued to drop buckets of rain between Seguin and New Braunfels — 13 inches in a matter of a few hours.
As the river flowed faster and faster through the lake, I watched it quickly turn murky brown from its normal blue-green hue under grey skies.
I vividly remember watching as an entire two-story house — still intact — floated past the banks of the property, shaking my head because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
The water continued to rise, eventually splashing at the banks and panic started to set in.
Across the river voices of deputies on public address systems were warning people of a mandatory evacuation. On our side, a Guadalupe County Sheriff’s deputy told us we were under voluntary evacuations.
It took me several years to understand why we didn’t get the same treatment as across the river.
I later learned it was because none of our homes were in the 100-year floodplain. No one expected what was to come.
The renters who had RVs on our property began making preparations and we started to work in the restaurant.
In the flood of 1972 it filled the restaurant with about 6 feet of water. The belief was this wouldn’t be that bad.
We closed down the kitchen and began pulling some things out and putting other things up on shelves higher than lines that stained the wooden walls from the flood 26 years ago.
Co-workers, family and friends pitched in. We filled trash cans and garbage bags with food, beer and soda, trying to save what we could.
As the water continued to quickly rise, I started pulling what I could out of our house until the water was splashing at the skirting of the trailer.
We stood on the sidelines and watched as the water cut through the property and began engulfing the restaurant, taking the travel trailers and scattering them about the grounds.
Shock and disbelief were all I felt as I witnessed the beginning of the end for us.
My grandmother, Eileen “GiGi” Silvia, who was in England visiting her family, and my sister lived in Indiana, both watched on TV, fearful and unable to contact us.
As the waters resided, there was the uncertainty of what would happen next.
For the next week, school was canceled and we worked to salvage what we could from both our home and our business.
A layer of mud coated everything. You never realize the odor mud has until you’ve trudged around it for a week. I still smell it every time it rains.
The damage and destruction inside mirrored the outside world.
The heavy, oak bar was twisted and pulled from the foundation, laying upside down. The old Coke box and refrigerator were both moved and laid over. However, a lone plant on the wooden stove that served as a fireplace in the winter months, laid untouched. It appeared to have risen with the waters as they crept in and gently placed back in the same position, as if nothing had happened.
As the river carved a new path into the community, neighbors and friends lost everything — valuables, homes — and some lost their lives.
We were lucky in the aspect that our home only received about a foot of water. We lost some pieces of our history, photographs and other stuff that can easily be replaced. The restaurant was not as fortunate.
Only a few parts of the roof was visible at the water’s peak. Heading into the winter months, there was no way to rebuild or repair and be able to pay for it.
Not to mention, the building would have to be razed and built up high, out of the floodplain. My parents made the hardest decision of their lives, one that changed the course of everything in my mine.
Just a few months after the flood, they decided to sell the property and we moved to the country, away from it all.
Not many people knew what it takes to run a business, what it costs — and I’m not talking financially.
I didn’t realize how much we lost when it came to family time.
Yes, we were together all the time, however, there weren’t family vacations in the summer or weekend trips together.
My dad worked full time at CMC, then GBRA and eventually back to CMC, plus multiple side jobs of fixing boats, building boat lifts, while continuing to maintain the property and equipment, to help make ends meet and keep us all afloat.
There we many high school events my parents missed for both my sister and myself, including my sister’s graduation.
They missed being able to do a lot with my little brother his first couple of year’s growing up. He was 1 year old when they took the restaurant over and 5 when it flooded.
I went to college, eventually getting my associate’s in photography, and later my bachelor’s in journalism.
My mom works for the school district as a manager of an elementary cafeteria, while my father continues to work at CMC. My little brother has followed in his footsteps, working at the steel mill as well.
Grandma, too, moved away from the river, and volunteered for a while at a couple of the local schools helping students read. She later worked at Walmart and enjoyed greeting customers there — old and new.
Now each year, the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce honors Hotshots and the legacy it held. It offers community members a chance to remember the good times, relive the past.
It often reminds us what we had, but it, too, reminds us of what we lost.
Felicia Frazar is the assistant editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org