University Camp is temporarily closed due to damage sustained during extreme flooding over Memorial Day weekend in Hays County.
University officials said the 126-acre recreational campsite located along the Blanco River in Wimberley sustained damages and will be closed until further notice. Professional staff will assess the area so the camp can reopen, said Daniel Vasquez, associate director of campus recreation.
Anthony Deringer, coordinator of outdoor recreation, said 30 people trapped at the campsite were moved to a “safer” lodge located on higher ground during Memorial Day weekend.
“I kept watching the gauges, and the rain just took a turn for the worst,” Deringer said. “So we made the decision to evacuate the people in the campground early in the night. The people that were evacuated first were able to get out safely and without a problem.”
Deringer had to act on behalf of campers’ safety after listening to the rain and tracking the weather on the night of the flood.
“The two lodges we have are quite a bit higher uphill and away from the river, so we didn’t end up evacuating the lodges right away,” Deringer said. “By the time we realized the water was rising as fast as it was, it was too late to evacuate the lodges because of the low water crossings.”
Deringer and his staff anxiously waited to see how high the flood level would get. Luckily, the water did not reach the lodges.
The water rose to approximately 15 feet from Beretta, one of the lower of the two lodges available to campers, Deringer said.
“Because we moved all of the people and their vehicles to the highest spot at the campgrounds, we didn’t really have any major damages as far as buildings or vehicles are concerned,” Deringer said. “However, we did have some major damage down along the river.”
The entire edge of the river is “completely scalped,” he said.
“Mostly, there are a lot of huge, beautiful trees that got knocked over or uprooted,” Deringer said. “We only have around eight to 10 cypress trees that are left down there along the riverbank. What was once a wonderful spot for swimming, fishing, or hanging out along the edge of the river is now halted due to detrimental weather.”
The riverbank running through the campsite is littered with debris, he said. Staff members have found a hot tub, a vehicle and other wreckage washed up in the campsite area.
“All of the picnic tables are gone, and some barbecue pits that were concreted into the ground are uprooted,” Deringer said. “All of our fencing around the area is gone.”
Deringer does not think destruction from the flood could “get much worse.”
“Even some of the neighbors’ houses that were built closer to the river are just slabs—there is absolutely nothing left there,” Deringer said. “Because of the enormous amount of debris, there will be quite a lot of people needed to help clean up the river.”
DerryAnn Krupinsky, assistant director of community service for the City of San Marcos, recognizes the importance of citizens coming together to restore local flood-stricken areas.
“Texas State students have been very much active in their efforts at flood recovery here in San Marcos,” Krupinsky said. “In the first few days, we had groups that came into the neighborhood and helped people clean up.”
She saw a lot of “encouragement and help” from Texas State students and groups, such as Bobcat Build.
Vasquez urged those wanting to help in the recovery process to contact the Dean of Students office, where officials are contributing to volunteer efforts for Hays County.
“As we are in this phase of recovery, we here at University Camp hope to get this place up and running again soon,” Vasquez said.