It’s a tragedy so heavy that we can’t imagine anyone ever having to endure it. For Jonathan McComb, it’s one that he is forced to live with each and every day.
Five months ago, he lost his entire family when violent floodwaters swept away the Wimberley, Texas, home they were staying in over Memorial Day Weekend. The family was celebrating with a close group of friends from Corpus Christi, Texas.
Along with the family dog, a golden lab named Maggie, he was the only survivor. A search crew found Maggie clinging to life on some tree branches.
When they planned the trip, they knew it was supposed to rain, but they never expected the horror they’d actually have to face.
During the night, the water rose about 30 feet in just under 10 minutes, without warning. They had no idea what kind of storm was headed toward them.
McComb’s wife Laura, his four-year-old daughter Leighton, and six-year-old son Andrew disappeared into the dark of night after the house was swept of its foundation and plunged into the Blanco River.
Although the home managed to float along the river for quite some time, it eventually hit a bridge and began falling apart.
McComb’s father, Joe, told ABC News, “Jonathan said [that] they were going down the river, the house hit a bridge and it took the top part of the house off, and with the bottom gone and the top gone, the house just basically splintered.”
Before disappearing into the murky waters, the 34-year-old mother dialed 911 and made a chilling plea for help.
During her first call, she told the operator:
We are on the Blanco River in Wimberley, and the water is up to the second story into the house. It’s coming up to the second floor. I mean it’s so high up. And we have no exit out.
Her final, heartbreaking call:
Hello! Our house is down! We’re floating! Our house if off the things, and we’re floating!
Unfortunately, help did not arrive in time. Laura’s body, along with that of her son, were later discovered. Little Leighton still has not been found.
McComb managed to survive, but not without suffering from broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a shattered sternum. He was found 12 miles down the river.
The depth of the heartache he faces every single day is unfathomable, and he has chosen to keep his family’s distressing final moments to himself. Where does someone find the strength and courage to carry on? For McComb, it comes from the wonderful memories he shared with his family.
He still wears the wedding ring he wife of 12 years gave him, and has left him home the way it was the last time his wife and children lived and played there.
“It keeps the memory alive,” he said. “I don’t know that I would do without the memories. That’s what pushes me along the most, I guess.”
Another thing that gives him the strength to persevere are his dreams. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t try and find his family within them.
Recently, he had a dream that inspired him to finally tell his tragic story. In that dream, he daughter ran up to greet him.
“She said, ‘We didn’t make it, Daddy. You did. We got picked up by a man in the river — and it was Jesus. And we are in Heaven,’ And I woke up immediately and I looked for them and knew they weren’t there, and tried to get back in that dream. That was a big dream for me. I pray to have that dream every night before I go to bed.”
He may have had to say goodbye forever to his wife and young children, but they will never be forgotten.