I headed out this afternoon to make the grocery run I cancelled yesterday during my panic and, on the way, decided to detour to Alum Creek and assess the damage. A lot of us Bastropians were driving that way this afternoon either out of morbid curiousity or to pay our respects. It reminded me of a funeral cortege, everyone slowing down while driving through the worst of it, making a U-turn about a mile past and then driving slowly back through. Some people were circling for a second pass.
The firemen and law enforcement are still very much on the scene. A little convenience store just down the way had been set up as the command center and it was wall to wall emergency vehicles far down the gravel road beside it. Hot spots still smoulder out in the fields and helicopters are still criss-crossing above the area.
The Alum Creek Antique Center is a pile of smoking rubble. Only two buildings survive of the dozen or so that were there. If you are familiar with the place, everything on the hill to the right of the driveway is gone. The two surviving buildings were along the left side of the parking area. Everything behind them is gone. I'm not sure the buildings left are more than a shell.
The cemetery doesn't look as bad as I thought it might. In the way that fires and tornadoes behave, the damage skips around. The western half of the cemetery and the entire ground surface are blackened, but the trees on the eastern half don't appear to be badly damaged. Big patches of blackened earth come right up to the front yards of houses that survived pretty much intact. And then, you see the remains of a house you've driven by for 30 years. Nothing but the stone steps and the fireplace left.
The model log buildings that sit in a pasture are fine, while the pastures around them are totally burnt. Across the road from the Alum Creek Antique Center sits a small building that houses a realty company and it survived. Acreage around it is scorched. A long stretch of green will lull you into thinking you've reached the perimeter and then the big black splotches appear again.
The evidence of the destruction extends far up the hills and down the gravel roads that are blocked off by Sheriff's cars. I saw people who still have houses standing in their yards and studying their surroundings, looking stunned.
I saw a lot of drivers behind their wheels looking stunned. I felt sick when I left.