By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
For Steiner Ranch resident Julie Shields and her family, the Memorial weekend floods have been devastating. Shields lost her sister, a nephew and a niece in the Wimberley floods, and she continues to help in the search of Leighton’s body in the Wimberley area.
“We’re not giving up,” Shields said. “We still need to find Leighton. The outpouring of love and support is what’s keeping us going. We had 1,500 volunteers on Saturday.”
Shields’ sister, Corpus Christie resident Laura McComb, 34, had been spending the holiday weekend in Wimberley with her husband, Jonathan, their two children, Andrew, 6, and Leighton, 4, and another family in a cabin by the Blanco River. But when the torrential rains began and the river quickly rose to unprecedented levels on May 23, their cabin at 100 Deer Crossing was swept off its foundation, sending it and the nine people inside floating downstream.
Shields told KXAN that she and her sister had been texting and talking throughout the night of the flood and Laura said that water had started coming in the house around 11 p.m. Shields said her sister didn’t realize how bad it would get until too late and by 1 a.m. she told her, “We are floating in a house that is now floating down the river. Call mom and dad. I love you, and pray.”
Tragically, after hitting a bridge, the house broke apart, sending the families into the raging waters. Out of the nine people staying at the house, only Jonathan McComb, 36, survived. He suffered a broken sternum, a collapsed lung and a broken rib and was treated at a San Antonio hospital. He was released on Friday.
“They had all been in the house together holding hands but when the house hit the bridge and it separated, he got separated from everyone else,” Shields told KVUE.
Now Jonathan is out of the hospital. “He is surrounded by family and friends as he tries to get through these difficult times. He is involved with the search for his family,” Shields said.
The bodies of both Laura and her son, Andrew, have been found and identified. Her body was found in flood debris near the Blanco River near the 700 block of Bluffview Road in Wimberley.
As of June 3, emergency personnel and volunteers continue to look for young Leighton. Shields is still in Wimberley and is helping with the search effort.
She described the devastation she is witnessing after the floods as horrific.
“No words or video can explain the devastation left behind,” Shields said.
The McComb’s yellow Labrador named Maggie was found safe in a tree near the Blanco River.
As of this week, eight bodies have been recovered in Hays County, and all but one has been identified, according to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office. Four people remain listed as missing.
Shields said anyone wishing to help can visit www.wimberleytxrescue.com for information on volunteering for the search effort or to make a donation, which will help aid in the search.
“The outpouring of love and support for our family has been inspiring,” said Shields, who has lived in Steiner Ranch for 10 years with her husband, Zach Shields, a local TV meteorologist. “People who didn’t even know Laura, Andrew and Leighton have searched and prayed for our family. We can’t thank the volunteers enough.”