Lost and Found in Wimberley
Reuniting a wallet lost after the flood with its owner
By Sarah K. Wolf,
12:00PM, Thu. Aug. 13, 2015
Back in June, Chronicle staff visited Wimberley to volunteer for post flood cleanup at the home of Michael and Gay Sullivan, grandparents to Chronicle marketing manager Dallen Terrell.
I was eager to help with the cleanup, and see for myself the change of landscape along the Blanco River. The Sullivans, like most families living on the riverbank, had the majority of their household items washed away, or buried deep in the mud. Dallen explained that items could be buried several feet in the ground by that time, but the shifting landscape and continued rains also meant that even after cleaning up for weeks they were still uncovering personal belongings.
Being a self-proclaimed amateur detective, I was pretty enthusiastic about digging through several feet of mud and debris with the hope of finding something of sentimental importance to someone. We found an abundance of items throughout the day, including old photographs, several plastic toy cars, tools from Michael's vast collection, and a silver spoon. It was a daunting task since there was so much ground to cover, and most of the recovered objects couldn’t really be saved.
As I was cleaning up near the front porch, I noticed what looked like a Western-style leather wallet stuck in the flower bed. I began digging and uncovered a wallet with multiple drivers licenses and personal documents belonging to a man and a woman with the same last name. It had been lying there, under a thin layer of leaves, going unnoticed for weeks.
We laid the IDs and documents out to dry – they spanned a couple of decades and were in surprisingly good shape. Back in Austin, fellow co-worker and wannabe sleuth Kat McNevins assisted in the search for the wallet’s owners. A Google search of the family name and location led us to an obituary post with additional family names listed, and we were able to contact a family member in New Braunfels who introduced me to the wallet’s owner. She had lived several houses down from the Sullivans until the flood. The flood washed away her heavy cedar nightstands, and she lost important family documents and belongings, including the leather wallet from her deceased uncle. I exchanged a few emails with the family (they were intrigued by how we found the wallet in all the muck, and how we were able to track them down) and mailed the wallet back to Wimberley, happy to have it back with its original owner.