Construction complete on Fischer Store Bridge in Wimberley

It has been a long road to recovery for those who live along the Blanco River in Wimberley, but the town is one step closer to restoring normalcy.

The Fischer Store Bridge, which was washed away in the historic flood Memorial Day weekend, is complete.
The bridge separated those who live on the west side of the Blanco River from the downtown area.

That means, for people who wanted to make a trip into town, they had to follow a 40 to 50-mile detour.
“It was just a big, vacant spot and you just wondered, ‘How could the water be that strong and that forceful to take out that kind of a bridge,’” said June Oliver who lives in Wimberley.

It's hard to forget the dramatic images of the 20-year old Fischer Store Bridge in Wimberley washed out by the Blanco River.

“Huge chunks of it, probably some of it fifty-foot long, just in the middle of the river,” Don Ash, who lives on the West side of the Blanco River said.

Memorial Day weekend the rain-swollen river climbed above 40 feet, destroying everything in its wake.

“I was watching it, but I was in a state of disbelief because even though I was seeing it, I couldn't believe it,” said Barbara Ash who also lives on the West side of the Blanco River. 

The powerful river chewed through hundreds of homes and left mud several inches thick on everything it touched.

When Barbara and Don Ash finally got to see the damage inside their home, they were astonished.

“I was wading through mud and it looked like some giant had just tossed all my stuff. Everything was just black and the odor and the smell of just dirt, and I took a few pictures and I walked back out and I said, ‘I cannot do this,’” Barbara said. 

The Fischer Store Bridge was the Ashs’ main access point into town. So when they realized the bridge was gone, their normal, everyday commute tripled from 10 minutes to 30 minutes around a 50-mile detour.

“One of the biggest impacts was that emergency people couldn't get out here to service the people,” Don said. 

This week, Barbara and Don got a lot of that time back.

“We celebrated,” Barbara said.

TX-DOT crews completed construction on the new bridge three months early, officially opening it on Friday.

“I got in the car and drove across and he filmed it, put it on Facebook,” said Barbara.

“And she's honking the horn all the way across,” Don added.

Now the Ashs’ and other families on the west side of the Blanco River feel like a part of the community once more.

“We felt like we were over there and everybody else was over here, so now we're all back together again,” Barbara said.

“They built that bridge a lot stronger than the other one, and I'm not sure about all the engineering that went into it, but I watched them build it. It's a very, very strong bridge,” Don said. 

Almost as strong as the heart of the people in Wimberley, who continue to help each other every step of the way.

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