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Starting over: Local veteran displaced after losing home to flood

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, April 20, 2019
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Needing a Hand

NEEDING A HAND – Veteran and Army Reservist Wilmer Valles, 52, was displaced after his home was damaged by flash floods near Alvord Wednesday night. Messenger photo by Austin Jackson

Through his military service overseas and disaster relief in the Army Reserves, Alvord resident Wilmer Valles has routinely been the one helping others during times of emergency.

On Wednesday night, as severe storms rolled through Wise County, Valles, 52, found himself on the other side, needing help. Valles, after taking his fiance’s car to safety from the approaching hail storm, returned to find a police barricade and his house surrounded by several feet of water.

Flash floods in the area resulted in a river of fast-moving water, mud and debris rushing through his home located near U.S. 81/287. The water had risen to as high as four feet by the time Valles arrived after sitting in traffic from U.S. 81/287 having been shut down in both directions due to high water.

“As soon as I heard it was flooding, I knew it was the house,” Valles said. “I took the shoulder, drove all the way to the house, went through the police barricade and ran through the water.”

Valles’ main concern was his German shepherd, Onyx, and four cats trapped in the house as the water rose. Valles said he and a DPS trooper rushed through the water to the front door.

“It took between me and the trooper, all of our strength,” Valles said. “The water was pressed up and debris [was against the door]. It took everything to open that door. Once we pushed the door open, water came out up to our waist pushing us back.”

By the time Valles and the DPS trooper entered, the German shepherd’s nose was barely above water.

Adrenaline set in.

“I lost it,” Valles said. “I immediately broke the cage. I don’t know how, but I just broke the door and he jumped on me and I carried him in my arms.”

Valles and the trooper arrived in time to save the dog and the cats in the home. But the house he was renting and his personal vehicle were lost.

“Everything below four feet is gone,” Valles said. “The way I look at it, it’s like starting from zero again. I’m in the military. I’m in the Army Reserves, and my job is to go out to hurricane damages and help people going through stuff like this. Never in my life would I have thought it would happen to me.”

Valles and his fiance are currently living out of a motel after the American Red Cross stepped in, providing them with a $480 debit card to get them through the week.

He went by his former home to find a mess of mud Thursday, with several trees uprooted.

After Valles has helped so many through his service, he’s coming to grips with needing help from others. A lifetime of possessions are largely gone.

“It’s come full circle,” Valles said. “That’s why I joined the military in the first place in 2006. It came from the heart and I never thought twice. I wanted to serve my country. I always wanted to serve the public. Now, that it’s happened to me, it’s weird. I feel out of place.”

A self storage unit has been provided to Valles for donations. First and foremost, he’s looking for a reasonable place to live, necessities and furniture. His clothes can be washed, but furniture, appliances and the rest of his home beneath four feet is gone.

“We need a place to stay,” he said. “We need good housing that we can call home again in Wise County.”

Valles has been in contact with Veterans Services, who are providing help. But he said he has a long way to go to put his life back together.

Contact the Wise County Veterans Services office at (940) 627-2470 or donate to the Go Fund Me page set up to support Valles and his fiance by visiting gofundme.com/military-flood-victim.

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