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Facebook reunites Wimberley flood victims with belongings

The letters lay in a pile of debris along the Blanco River, untorn and neatly stacked in a bundle fastened with a green ribbon.

The 1950s-postmarked mail was obviously swept away in the floods, Stan Deringer knew. So many things had been dragged into the torrent of floodwaters that destroyed so much during the Memorial Day weekend storms. These letters — intact and legible, but wet— had come to rest at the Texas State University campground where Deringer’s cousin works. He brought the letters home, and his wife, Shellie, posted a picture of them on Facebook.

Less than 24 hours later, they’d tracked down the letters’ rightful owner.

“So many people wanted to help these letters get home, and I’m so grateful that we were able to do that,” Shellie Deringer said.

As Wimberley residents deal with the devastation of lost lives, missing people and destroyed homes, glimmers of hope are peeking through the trauma as some residents are being reunited with personal possessions washed away by the raging floodwaters.

In the last few days, several Facebook pages devoted to reconnecting people with their belongings have popped up. Found Photos from Wimberley Floods 2015 is reuniting people with found pictures. Shellie Deringer posted on Wimberley Flood Lost and Found, a 2,700-member group that has already had much success for some people and supplied at least a little hope for others.

People have pleaded for help finding photos, journals, family heirlooms, antique furniture, jewelry and other memory-filled items. Other people post pictures of what they have found.

Dustin New, who lives in New Braunfels, wasn’t affected by the storms, but he has friends in the area and created Wimberley Flood Lost and Found to help people recover.

“If there’s even one thing that finds its way to its original owners, that makes it well worth it,” New said.

By that standard, the effort has been a resounding success.

“This is my aunt’s dog,” one person wrote upon seeing a picture of a scruffy terrier. “Thanks for helping!”

“That is me in the wedding photo, it washed away from my Dad’s house on Flite Acres,” another woman wrote.

“We found our canoe!” a poster wrote. “Thank you!”

Wimberley resident Rick Byars, whose home was damaged in the storms, was crushed when he realized the flood had stolen one of his military surplus boxes. The sturdy white container was filled with mementos: wedding pictures, diplomas, even the grammar school report cards that showed him flirting with failure in the conduct category.

Then his daughter posted a plea on Wimberley Flood Lost and Found. Soon, Byars discovered that his box and its undamaged contents had landed in a San Marcos yard nearly 20 miles away. His memories had been rescued.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said, his voice catching with emotion. “It really gave us a lift.”

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