Neighbors dedicate Oak Hill wildfire mosaic

On April 17, 2011, wildfires spread through Southwest Austin, destroying or damaging 21 homes and causing an estimated $5 million worth of damage across 100 acres.

Two years and two weeks later, the residents of the Scenic Brook and South Windmill Run neighborhoods helped dedicate a mosaic wall celebrating efforts to rebuild their community.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell spoke at the dedication ceremony May 5 and praised firefighters for their response on that day. He read a proclamation from Austin City Council dedicating May 5 in honor of the wall.

"This wall tells the story of this community. A community that loves, celebrates and heals," lead artist Wanda Montemayor said.

The wall

The Oak Hill Village Mosaic stands near the entrance of Windmill Run Park at 7306 Kirkham Lane. It measures 10 feet long, 6 feet high and 2 feet wide and is made of ceramic tiles, glass, mirrors and cement.

The side facing the entrance of Windmill Run Park depicts a phoenix rising from the ashes in a neighborhood underneath a blue and purple sky.

The reverse side shows a stylized depiction of Oak Hill, with houses on hills and the Austin Community College Pinnacle campus in the background.

The center of the reverse side contains a plaque which reads:

"This mosaic wall celebrates the community spirit of neighbors and volunteers joining together, rising up from the ashes and rebuilding what was lost in response to the Oak Hill Wildfire on April 17, 2011. The ceramic tiles were handcrafted by neighbors, volunteers, Austin area students and local artists."

The project's lead artists estimated that the project took 1,744 hours to complete. Lead artist Connie Justice said the project began last April and had at least 100 contributors work on it.

Reactions

Janice and Doug Todd's home on Scenic Brook Drive was severely damaged during the wildfire.

Doug said the wall was a mixed memory. He said he was thankful and grateful for the people who helped them rebuild.

He said God has provided for his family, and that they got by on faith and perseverance.

Carol and Benny Cespedes were traveling in Bosnia when the wildfires happened. She said she had received support via email before they had even returned to the U.S. She thanked all of the people who had helped them.



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