Bastrop County plans event to remember and look ahead

The scars remain, but on this September day, rebirth can clearly be seen and heard. All the sweat and tears that pour out in this part of Bastrop County is not lost on Sheila Lowe who is the executive director of the long term recovery team. "It's a pretty big deal, five years," said Lowe.

The Bastrop complex fire started September 4, 2011 when high winds knocked tree limbs onto power lines.

The fire storm burned through an area known as the Lost Pines, scorching 35,000 acres & destroying 17-hundred homes. The army of firefighters and  air tankers that doused the flames are long gone but certainly not the memory.

At the convention center in Bastrop on Sunday afternoon, a reunion of survivors and volunteers will take place.

"So, along with the county and other nonprofits and businesses we want the families to know this is what happened, this is where we are since it happened, and this is where we will be in the future," said Lowe

It's a difficult journey that Richard Torres is familiar with. He was among those to lose a home to the fire. "It seems almost like yesterday when you drive through here and look at it it doesn't seem like five years," said Torres.

As a local real estate agent Torres had helped neighbors moved out and helped new neighbors moved in. Despite the pain and heartache, he still believes in Bastrop. "No it's not defeating- because you can overcome if you want, if  you want to overcome you can overcome, there is help out here and means to do it, but you have to want to do it yourself, and there are a lot of people that are doing it," said Torres.

To ease the burden, Torres would would like to see the county start a program to help private property owners clear away the deed trees that remain.

Not far away from where Torres' home once was a small two man logging operation is still helping with the cleanup. Sam Roberson says he started cutting wood shortly after the fire was out. "Mostly for Barns, I put some flooring in at a guys house ... a lot of beams and rafters and stuff people put into the houses that they build," said Roberson.

Each plank is symbol of taking something bad and making something good out of it.

Roberson is not surprised he is still cutting wood. "We keep having forest fires and I'll keep doing it."

The last big fire was in 2015. Before that happened, and after, there have been four major floods. Each event, Lowe warns, is a bitter reminder of how quickly conditions in Texas can change.

"We've done a lot of things to help prepare our families were not exempt - we want to make sure people understand that it can happen here and it can't happen here again."

The event here Sunday afternoon is free. It starts at noon and runs until 3 o'clock. Along with the music and barbecue, those attending can help create a memorial wall and also write messages to individuals who they feel were unsung heroes.

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