Home Hays County Eight remain missing, five fatalities confirmed in Central Texas Floods

Eight remain missing, five fatalities confirmed in Central Texas Floods

Photo by: Preslie Cox | Multimedia Editor
Devastation struck San Marcos after historic flash floods.

8:51 p.m. UPDATE: Search and rescue crews have found a man’s body on the bank of the Blanco River.

Texas Task Force 1 found the adult male body near Fox Road in San Marcos. The floods that surged through Hays County have now claimed five lives. Eight people remain missing.

Officials said they are sending the body to Central Texas Autopsy for identification. Meanwhile, Texas Task Force 1 and other agencies are continuing to search for the remaining missing people.

MAY 28 12:07 p.m. UPDATE:  The four families affected by flooding in Wimberley, Carey, Charba, McComb and Schultz, addressed the public in a joint press conference with Hays County early today.

County officials confirmed eight people remain missing and four fatalities from the floods that surged through Hays County. Three out of the four fatalities were identified as Dayton Larry Thomas, Jose Arteaga-Pichardo and Michelle Carey-Charba. The fourth body is pending identification, officials said.

Jonathan McComb is being treated for injuries at a San Antonio hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. His wife, Laura Schultz-McComb and his two children, Andrew and Leighton McComb remain missing.  The McComb family was staying in Wimberley for Memorial Day Weekend when their house got knocked off its foundation.

The body of Michelle Carey-Charba was identified yesterday. Michelle’s husband, Randy Charba, her son, Will Charba and parents Ralph and Sue Carey remain missing.

“It is impossible to express in words the tremendous amount of loss, pain and fear we are feeling,” said Kellye Burke, who spoke on behalf of the families. “Still we are finding comfort in our faith and in the support of our family, friends and community.”

Officials from Texas Task Force 1 said teams are still conducting search and rescue missions.  The task force has 60 members, 30 military personnel and nine canine units involved in search and rescue missions.

Kharley Smith, Hays County Emergency Management Coordinator, said county and city officials will re-evaluate the flood plain area to determine where some can be re-built.

Family members directed those wanting to volunteer to the search and rescue team looking for the missing families. The team meets at 8 a.m. each morning at the First Baptist Church in Wimberley.

“At times when it is easy to feel cynical about the world around us, this experience has strengthened our faith in God and in humanity,” Burke said.

9:12 p.m. UPDATE: Dayton Larry Thomas was identified as the second male body. Thomas was found Sunday in San Marcos.

The number of missing persons in Hays County is now eight people.

Recovery crews also found the body of a male child. It is undetermined if the boy was a victim already listed on the county’s record of missing persons or if he has gone unreported. The child was not able to be identified and has been sent to Central Texas Autopsy.

Search and rescue teams will continue working throughout the night.

4:46 p.m. UPDATE: Ken Bell, San Marcos emergency management coordinator, said one of the missing persons Michelle Carey-Charba was found yesterday.

Carey-Charba had been missing since Saturday. She was staying in a house along the Blanco River with her husband, son and parents when the flood came and lifted the house off its foundation. The house was pushed into a bridge downriver, officials said.

Senator Ted Cruz paid a visit to the San Marcos Police Station Wednesday after several severe storms flooded Wimberley and the surrounding communities. Cruz said President Barack Obama is committed to offering federal aid to the Central Texas area.

Officials said nine people are still missing and three have been found.

-Michelle Carey-Charba, 43, was identified after her body was found in Caldwell County Tuesday.

1:14 p.m. UPDATE: The number of missing is now nine people.

MAY 27 11:30 a.m. UPDATE: Jose Alvaro Arteaga-Pichardo has been identified as one of the bodies recovered along the Blanco River, according to Hays County officials.

-Jose Alvaro Arteaga-Pichardo, 29, was identified early Wednesday morning.

Officials have identified a second female body and are waiting for identification confirmation from the family before releasing her name.

Ken Bell, San Marcos emergency management coordinator, said 744 homes in San Marcos have been damaged as of yesterday. Texas Task Force has about 100 personnel on the ground doing search and rescue missions, he said.

“Technology is great, but boots on the ground is what gets the job done, period,” Bell said.

He said the flood has affected most of Texas and 12 people remain missing.

9:07 p.m. UPDATE: The Hays County Sheriff’s office released photos and identities of those still missing after the floods. The number of people considered missing is now 11 as two of the previous 13 have been found safe.

Three bodies have been recovered from the Blanco River—two in Hays and one in Caldwell County. Officials are awaiting confirmation of their identification, but have described the bodies as one adult female and two adult males.

The Hays County Sheriff’s Office is asking that anyone with information regarding the individuals currently missing or any other potential victims contact the office immediately at 512-393-7796.

The missing persons are:

  • Ralph Hugh Carey, 73-year-old white male, last seen at 100 Deer Crossing, Wimberley
  • Sue McNeil Carey, 71-year-old white female, last seen at 100 Deer Crossing, Wimberley
  • William Randall Charba, 42-year-old white male, last seen at 100 Deer Crossing, Wimberley
  • Michelle Marie Carey-Charba, 43-year-old white female,  last seen at 100 Deer Crossing, Wimberley
  • William Charba, 6-year-old white male, last seen at 100 Deer Crossing, Wimberley
  • Laura Schultz McComb, 34-year-old white female, last seen at 100 Deer Crossing, Wimberley
  • Andrew McComb, 6-year-old white male, last seen at 100 Deer Crossing, Wimberley
  • Leighton McComb, 4-year-old white female, last seen at 100 Deer Crossing, Wimberley
  • Dayton Larry Thomas, 74-year-old white male, last seen at 806 River Road, Wimberley
  • Jose Alvero Arteaga-Pichardo, 29-year-old Hispanic male, last seen in the area of Loop 165, Wimberley
  • Kenneth Reissing, 81-year-old white male, last seen on FM 32 @ 473 in Blanco County

-Michelle and William Charba, photo courtesy of the Hays County Sheriff’s office

-Laura, Leighton and Andrew McComb, photos courtesy of the Hays County Sheriff’s office

-TOP, L-R: Laura Schultz, Michelle Marie Carey-Charba, Ralph Hugh Carey, William Randall Charba, BOTTOM L-R: Larry Dayton Thomas, Kenneth Louis Reissig, Jose Alvaro Arteaga-Pichardo, Sue McNeil Carey, photos courtesy of the Hays County Sheriff’s office

4:25 p.m. UPDATE: The 30 unaccounted people  have all been contacted. There are 13 people who remain missing.

A body was found along the Blanco River this morning. Officials have yet to confirm if it is one of the 13 reported missing.

1:33 p.m. UPDATE: President Barack Obama has declared Texas a disaster area, said Hays County Judge Bert Cobb at a May 26 press conference.

MAY 26 1:22 p.m. UPDATE: The number of missing persons due to floods has risen to 30 people.

Two fatalities have been confirmed.

Sewell Park on campus is closed due to safety concerns.

4:18 p.m. UPDATE: Hays County officials are still in the process of finding the 12 people who were confirmed missing earlier this morning. The 12 people were on a trip together and have yet to be found.

Governor Greg Abbott declared Hays County, along with 23 others, to be in a state of disaster.

Those looking to donate to flood victims can use this email: HaysCoFlood@hays.co.tx.us

Around 300 displaced citizens stayed at Wimberley High School Sunday night, said Wimberley Mayor Steve Thurber. The high school is now closed as a shelter and the First Baptist Church in Wimberley will be used for evacuees.

MAY 25 9:12 a.m. UPDATE: Kharley Smith, Hays County Emergency Management Coordinator, said 12 people have been confirmed missing due to floods. Rescue teams are actively looking for those missing.

The 12 are suspected to be from one group that may have been in a building at the same time.

The one San Marcos man found dead Sunday remains unidentified. Officials are working to identify the man.

Smith said there are 1,200-1,300 buildings and homes that were damaged by the floods.

Aerial photography and thermal imaging will be used to search for those who are missing.

“Today, we are going to try to put cities back together again,” said Ken Bell, San Marcos emergency management coordinator.

Bell said the biggest deal right now is water. Water from wells needs to be boiled before it can be safe to drink.

Smith said the most affected areas in Wimberley were along the river. She said 67-72 homes were destroyed.

Curfew will continue tonight starting at 9 p.m. and ending tomorrow at 7 a.m.

Smith said monetary donations are preferred to help flood victims. Officials do not have the capacity to take in large donations as of now.

She added officials will push out donation information to the public as it becomes available.

Hays County officials are still pursuing rescue operations and have not yet completely assessed the damage the floods caused, Smith said.

Smith said “dollar signs” will increase substantially as authorities begin to assess the cost of the damage.

Texas Department of Transportation officials are closing Market Road 12 that crossed over the Blanco River. Officials said the bridge is intact but has suffered severe damage from the floodwaters.

-Photo by Preslie Cox, Multimedia Editor

MAY 24 4:09 p.m. UPDATE: Officials in Hays County have declared a state of emergency after last night’s flash floods displaced over 1,000 county residents.

In a May 24 press conference, officials announced one man as the first known fatality. Authorities are actively searching for at least three missing people.
Hays County Judge Bert Cobb said authorities are still operating rescue teams.
He advised citizens to flag aid down from their rooftops for authorities to find them.
“We knew that water was coming down, but never in our wildest imagination (did we) think about the wall of water that would come down and do the destruction,” Cobb said.
Hays County officials said the Blanco River reached 42.3 feet at its highest point.
Kharley Smith, emergency management coordinator for Hays County, said authorities rescued several hundred residents throughout the Wimberley area throughout the evening on Saturday.
Smith said last night’s flooding of the Blanco River reached 42 feet, a record high, surpassing the 1929 flood when the river reached 32 feet.
“This community—in Hays County particularly—is going to be recovering from this for years,” said Ken Bell, San Marcos emergency management coordinator.
Officials said the Fischer Store Road and Jacobs Well bridges were washed away in Saturday night’s waters.
Authorities are strongly advising residents to seek safety and to “turn around, don’t drown” from high floodwaters.
Officials are enforcing a curfew in Wimberley and San Marcos beginning at 9 p.m. and ending at 7 a.m. tomorrow.
Weather forecasts predict additional rainfall in the next 48 hours.
-Photo by Jon Wilcox, Senior News Reporter

12:37 p.m. UPDATE: A curfew was issued for Wimberley and San Marcos from 9 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday morning.

There are downed power lines and washed-out roadways making it risky to drive.

Hays County residents using well water were told to boil their water in case of contamination due to flooding. The boil-water notice does not apply to those using water from a municipal system.

9:44 a.m. UPDATE: The Texas State campus is closed today. There was no damage reported on campus.

9:33 a.m. UPDATE: Kharley Smith, Emergency Management Coordinator for Hays County, said there is no information on how many injuries or casualties due to flooding there are. Smith warned residents additional rain will come in over the next 48 hours and it is still dangerous.

Ken Bell, San Marcos Emergency Management Coordinator, said it is not yet time for evacuees to try returning home. He said the National Guard arrived around 8 a.m. in Hays County.

Bell said around 1,000 homes were damaged and at least 300 are gone.

“This is the largest flood I’ve seen in 25 years,” Bell said. “It is different than any flood we’ve ever had.”

Wimberley and Fischer experienced the most damage. About 1,000 residents sought safety at shelters in the area, including the San Marcos Activity Center, Smith said.

The American Red Cross is supporting shelters and donations can be made through the organization, she said.

“Turn around, don’t drown,” said Hays County Judge Bert Cobb. “If you think you can make it, think twice.”

EARLIER: San Marcos and surrounding counties experienced heavy flooding early this morning, leaving many areas underwater.

San Marcos residents were notified May 23 to prepare for potential flash flooding to happen early Sunday morning.

Rio Vista Neighborhood residents were told to evacuate the area at 5 a.m. due to rising water on the San Marcos River. The Blanco Gardens, Crepe Myrtle/Pecan/Hackberry Street and Blanco Vista areas were evacuated earlier in the morning. Residents living along River Road near Interstate Highway 35 (IH-35) and River Road were told to evacuate at 2:30 a.m., according to the San Marcos city website.

Evacuees were told at 5 a.m. to go to the San Marcos Activity Center. The activity center was full by 6 a.m. and evacuees were told to go to Hernandez Elementary School for safety.

The Blanco River has surpassed record flows set in the 1920s, according to the San Marcos city website.

Many apartment complexes, including The Grove, were evacuated this morning due to flooding. Students took to Twitter, sharing photos and updates as they left their homes.

-Imani McGarrell contributed to this report.