Community cooks Thanksgiving meal for La Grange flood victims

This Thanksgiving meal is a joint effort. Donations coming in from the non-profits Celebration of Love and Random Acts, half a million dollars from the fans of the TV show Supernatural after one of their stars got involved and an Austin Police Corporal is

LA GRANGE, TEXAS - At least 300 people are still living in hotels after flood waters hit La Grange in late August. 

Piles of debris still line some streets in La Grange as people try to figure out where they're going to live after powerful water destroyed their home. 

"It's heartbreaking, it's heart wrenching, but it's also been amazing to see the outpouring of volunteers come into our town," said Marsha Pyle with First United Methodist Church. 

Each year, the church teams up with Second Baptist Church in La Grange to feed about 250 people each Thanksgiving. 

Pyle said they provide everything "from Turkey to pie" in a "family-dining style." 

But this year, it's different. 

"Of course we've had our flood," Pyle said. 

Hundreds of people have no kitchen of their own, so they're turning to the First United Methodist Church. 

"We were really not sure where we were going to get our funding from and we were really praying about it, and all of a sudden I get a phone call," Pyle said. 

That call was from Austin Police Corporal Wut Tanksinanukij telling Pyle help was on the way. 

"We knew that Houston was going to get a lot of the resources -- we were worried about the smaller communities outside," said Tanksinanukij. "Bastrop, Smithville and La Grange were right in our backyard, so we couldn't ignore that, and wanted to help out."

So, Austin police officers are teaming up with community and fundraising groups to help feed 500 people at the church on Thanksgiving. 

"We were just honored to put everybody together, and say, 'Hey this is what we want to do' and everybody jumped on board," said Tanksinanukij. "It's truly a group effort, a community effort."

The non-profit Celebration of Love donated 25 turkeys, 600 Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and 25 pies.  

Fans of the TV show Supernatural raised almost $500,000 Jensen Ackles -- a star on the show -- and his wife, donated $50,000. 

Austin Police Corporal Tanksinanukij said the non-profit Random Acts also had a major role, and now he's helping them all come together. 

"It's Thanksgiving for one, and the thing is, a lot of folks have lost everything out there, their homes, they don't have kitchens, they don't have anything. And this is just will hopefully take one little burden off them that day," said Corporal Tanksinanukij. 

And it's Bryan Bracewell and his team at Southside Market & BBQ in Elgin who are smoking the 50 turkeys. 

He said they're happy to help. 

"We just want to folks of La Grange to know that we're still thinking about them, still love them," Bracewell said. 

After the flood waters hit, Bracewell fed flood victims and volunteers for seven days straight, giving away 10,000 meals 

"We believe that everybody helps in their own way, and we make food, that's what we do," Bracewell said. 

That's because he knows what that devastation of losing your home is like. 

"My wife and I live in Bastrop, and you know we're no stranger to natural disasters We actually lost our house in the Bastrop wildfire in 2011. So when our neighbors were hurting, we had a little history, and knew what they were going through. And so we just felt it was the right thing to do," Bracewell said. "The pain doesn't go away. And these types of things, the hurt -- the solution isn't overnight."

It's a hurt that everyone hopes a little turkey and pie can help. 

"It really brings the greatness in people and shows La Grange, that you know, yeah they're going through this, but your neighbors and the communities around you didn't forget about you, and we're going be here for the long term," Tanksinanukij said. 

"The outpouring is amazing and it's something that I can't put into words, besides saying thank you, deeply, sincerely thank you," Pyle said. 

Pyle said they will prepare the food Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The doors will open at 11 a.m., and she predicts they will be done serving at about 1 p.m. 

She said they will also deliver meals to those who are home-bound or first responders who are working on Thanksgiving. 

"This is what it's about, reaching out to the community, having a relationship with the community, with the folks that we serve," Tanksinanukij said. 

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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