By Julie Tomascik

Three weeks have passed. The three fires are out. And three things remain—faith, hope and a sense of community with those near and far.

When the wildfires swept across the Texas Panhandle earlier this month, families were left feeling helpless.

The fires raged. Flames licked the sky. The blazes grew. Minutes turned into hours, and desperation set in.

032817_TTT_Photo1

But farmers, ranchers and volunteers worked to stop the destruction. They built fire breaks, moved cattle and packed up their families, trying to outrun the fires.

032817_TTT_Photo5
What remained was devastation, a charred landscape. A thick layer of ashes coated everything. Homes, barns, equipment and more destroyed.

From the tragedy came a community, and it was even larger than many could imagine. Strangers became friends. Neighbors became family. And miles didn’t matter.

032817_TTT_Photo2
Because farmers near and far donated hay by the truckload. Some drove 100 miles. Others 500 or more. And still more crossed state lines to help.

The cost of the hay isn’t cheap. That, however, didn’t stop the giving hearts of agriculture.

Flat beds and semis loaded down with hay rolled into drop-off locations. Volunteers worked tirelessly to unload it. They were a team, committed to helping those facing overwhelming odds.

Other feedstuffs, fencing materials, meals and financial contributions also came flooding in.

Ranchers drove into town, ready and willing to work. They took time from their own families and farms to assist. They were boots on the ground. Their blood, sweat and tears mixed with those of the Panhandle ranchers.

032817_TTT_Photo4
The losses are staggering. The fires burned nearly half a million acres and damage is currently estimated at $21 million. That number is expected to grow as farmers and ranchers evaluate the destruction.

But the price tag won’t take into account the sorrow and heartache. It won’t bring back loved ones who were lost.

Sadly, the fire danger isn’t over. Another fire broke out since the three major fires were extinguished. More will likely come.

032817_TTT_Photo3
You, too, can help those in the Texas Panhandle with their recovery through Texas Farm Bureau’s wildfire relief fund with a tax-deductible donation.

Agriculture is a family of its own with room to grow. New friendships were formed through this tragedy. Bonds forever forged over the blackened landscape.

Despair won’t last long. The farm families will come back. Agriculture will survive.

We have faced obstacles before—drought, flooding, hail storms. Each time, we rise again.

Because we’re family strong. Community strong. And in this case, Panhandle strong.


And hear from two Texas ranchers in the aftermath of the fires.

 

Julie Tomascik

Associate Editor

As a third generation rancher, I prefer the outdoors to the kitchen. After all, there’s no better feeling than dirt under my feet and wind whipping through my hair. But I’m slowly learning my way around the kitchen.

Facebook Twitter