By Deanna Morey
OAK HILL – It’s been five months since the Oak Hill wildfire, and after countless hours of volunteer assistance, the house of Lily Henric, who lost everything in the fire, is finally starting to look like a home.
“It comes in waves and right now we’re on a crest. We’re making great strides,” Henric said. “(The volunteers) have worked so hard all these months, and it’s finally showing with an actual structure. Right now we’re in a very good place. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed.”
The framing of the home should be complete by the weekend. That will be followed by roof shingles, windows and plumbing.
When the first load of lumber came in, Henric was in disbelief. After sniffing the new lumber, she stood in a corner of her home and began to cry.
“It was something constructive rather than destructive. Before, it was just tearing away pieces of the house and throwing it in the dumpster. It was just beyond words,” she said, noting she again felt emotional as the framework for a wall in her den went up on Saturday. “Tears just started to come down.”
But despite the progress, Henric has been thinking about the victims of other recent wildfires in Spicewood, Steiner Ranch and especially Bastrop.
“It’s just so heartbreaking. It’s been a horrific couple of weeks for everyone in the neighborhood,” she said. (The wildfires) have brought back a lot of emotions.”
Oak Hill Wildfire Relief chair Gary Hunt said the group remains committed to completing the home by Christmas. The progress remains on track for Henric to move in before the wintertime holiday.
“Pictures are worth a thousand words. It definitely tells more than I could say,” Hunt noted of the work at Henric’s home.
Though about half a dozen volunteers have called to offer assistance lately, he’s offered a surprising suggestion to them.
“We suggest they go to Bastrop or Steiner Ranch,” Hunt said. “Our little fire here is small compared to 1,500 homes (in the Bastrop fires). People are really suffering there. We’ve turned away volunteers and said they could help clean up debris at Steiner Ranch. We’re doing really well here and we don’t want to hog all the attention from people having a harder time than us.”
Amy Harper, a co-chair for Oak Hill Wildfire Relief, noted that many of the volunteers assisting had family, friends or co-workers who were affected by the fires in Bastrop. Though the group could use volunteer assistance cleaning leaves and debris that is about two feet deep in Henric’s yard, they’ve been hesitant to ask.
“We’re doing really well,” Harper said. “I would just hate to ask for anything.”