Yesterday, September 15, 2011, I was driving back to my house in Austin from visiting Houston. I had just finished a shoot in Houston, so I had my camera with me, and I knew I’d be traveling through Bastrop. I’ve never considered myself a photo journalist, but I always have the desire to document these sort of occasions with the hope that some how, some way, it may help them out, or at least shed a bit of light and give some visual representation to those who seek it. As I neared Bastrop, I felt that I was entering some sort of war zone. Although I have never experienced that sort of thing, I could feel that something is going to be different. The landscape slowly started to change and you began to start to see the magnitude of what had happened. My first stop was just some photos on the side of the road because I wasn’t sure what else I was going to be able to get. I only snapped off two shots, because I quickly realized how many people might be looking at the damage and not be paying attention to the road while driving 65mph. I hurried back to my truck:
Bastrop Auto Works was the second thing to catch my attention. A lot full of cars that are now completely unsalvageable:
From here I decided to check out some of the rural areas and get off the highway. Co Rd 180 is the intersection where Bastrop Auto Works is, so I went down this road. This is where I began to see how people were affected by this, not just nature. Houses, gone. Cars, trailers, buses, etc. charred.
I noticed a tent set up with a couple of people under it. I didn’t want to be rude, so I stopped and asked if it was alright to take some photos. They said it was no problem, and quickly asked me if I had a flash? “What do I need a flash for?” “So you can take photos of my safe.” Apparently Chuck has been saving coins since he was a kid. The fire had got so hot, that it melted all of the coins together inside the safe. “Well of course I want to take photos of that.”
Next on the list of items that the Einsinger’s wanted me to photograph was a squirrel that didn’t seem to make it out. “I don’t know why, but I’m obsessed with this squirrel.” I didn’t quite share his obsession, but I understood the interest.
“Hey Tucker, by the way, we found your bike…” Fred said to his son. They had a bobcat to do some clearing in the morning and came across the bike. Fred had told me that Tucker was really concerened about his bike that he had left at Grandpas house. At this moment I found it suiting to take a photo of Tucker with his bike, so I asked if that would be ok. “Sure no problem” said Fred. “Tucker, this man is going to tell you what to do, you just listen to him. He’s going to make you famous.” “Ohhh, I’m not sure about that…. but I’ll be happy to send you copies for yourself.” “That sounds good.”
After Tucker and I took our photos I asked if they wouldn’t mind getting together for a family portrait. Chuck, Fred and Tucker. Grandfather, Father and son.
After the family portrait we exchanged information so I could send them the images, and I wished them good luck. Chuck left me with a story that friends and family had been calling to see if everything was fine. He told them that it was, and that he is being taken care of, and that everything will be rebuilt. BUT if you happen to have an extra $500k sitting around that you wanted to donate, that’d be great!! He said he hasn’t heard back yet from anyone on that….
I got back on the highway, and drove by Bastrop State Park and headed into Circle D-KC Estates. One thing that I saw that amazed me was this one house out there that seemed to be untouched:
And right across the street from it, was this:
The remainder of my images are pretty much the same. Landscape shots documenting the destruction. There was this one sign though that someone made. In the midst of all that was going on, you could tell they were trying to be in good spirit. This photo was taken on Charolais Dr, which is now coined “Charred-olais Dr.”