Jamie Lin Wilson’s Tiny Texas Town Endured a Spring Tornado — Now, She’s Singing for Relief Efforts
Jamie Lin Wilson’s phone began buzzing at 7PM on Wednesday, April 28. She was settled into Key West, Fla., for her annual trek to Mile 0 Fest -- 1,600 miles from her home in D’Hanis, Texas -- when she got the kind of news no one wants to hear when they are completely powerless to handle it.
“I got some texts from friends that weren’t at the festival and don’t live in my town,” Wilson shares in a recent interview. “Just … friends … that saw D’Hanis on the national news. And the texts just said, ‘Tornados?’ ‘Are y’all okay?’ Like, three different friends asked about tornadoes. So I texted [my husband] Roy.”
Roy assured Wilson that everything was fine, so she went about business as usual. But 20 minutes later, he called to clarify.
“He says, ‘Okay, so. I said ‘all good’ because we’re alive. But your car is totaled; all of the windows on the north side of [Roy’s mother] Granny’s house are smoked. We huddled up in the playroom, and the kids just saw the house just get destroyed by the hail,’” Wilson recalls. “He said it didn’t sound like there was a tornado, but all of the windows were broken.”
By morning, Roy was able to more accurately assess the damage. There had, indeed, been a tornado; he simply couldn’t hear it because the hail was much louder on their home’s tin roof. He boarded up the windows, checked on the neighbors and found places where he could immediately help.
“I didn’t have another drink the rest of the night,” Wilson says with a laugh, juxtaposing her situation in sunny Florida with the destruction at home. “I threw my drink out, and I ended up leaving the amp, and there was a pool where some friends were staying. I logged onto Facebook and saw someone saying, ‘Hey D’Hanis, was the second round as bad as the first round?’”
She finally reached a neighbor at 2AM. It wasn’t -- but it had gone through neighboring Yancey, where Roy had sent her children for the night.
“I had to get through a whole other round of phone calls the next day,” Wilson recounts. It was the same day she played a solo set at Truman Park Amphitheater, and the day before she organized one of Mile 0’s biggest events of the week, “Duets,” a collaborative close to the evening featuring many of the festival’s acts performing classic duets (largely country favorites). The set included Wilson, Cody Canada, Bri Bagwell, BJ Barham, Adam Hood, Courtney Patton, Kaitlyn Butts, Wade Bowen, Mike Harmier and more.
Water and electricity were out in D’Hanis for days; much of the area’s power was restored within 24 hours, but some of the most heavily damaged areas went without from Wednesday until Sunday. Still, more than a month later, the remote South Central Texas town with a population of just 550 is reeling from the devastation.
“Every house that I’ve seen has windows boarded up. Still,” Wilson says. “There’s at least an eight-week wait for windows; ours are gonna take 14-16 weeks. A lot of people here don’t have insurance -- you only have to have insurance if you have a note on your house -- so these houses that have just been handed down might not be insured.
“And it’s so hard to get the supplies,” Wilson continues. “The day after the storm, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army showed up. They boarded up everybody’s windows, they passed out food, they gave medication.”
Wilson didn’t return home until May 3. She’s a mother of four school-aged children and she coaches one of their softball teams, and those duties took up much of May. But she also managed to find time to organize a fundraising event to assist in recovery efforts, calling on her friends Josh Abbott, Jake Worthington, Kin Faux, Kristin Muennink and Jordan Gauna to perform together in nearby Hondo on Sunday (June 13), in a benefit concert dubbed What the Hail?!
“She never hesitated to step in and step up and use her gift,” says Katie Kothmann Haby of Medina Electric Cooperative. “Which, I don’t even know if she fully realizes she has. She’s plenty busy as a mom and as an artist, and for her to take extra time to use her connections to bring them in for the event. She’s helped with the graphics. She’s done a lot of the behind-the-scenes work, also; she’s done a lot of things to make this fundraiser happen that a lot of people probably don’t realize she’s doing.”
Wilson will return from her current run opening for Todd Snider just in time for the event. Attendees are asked to BYOB and BYOV (that’s vittles) for the 21-and-up show, the proceeds from which will be distributed evenly among the Rotary Club of Hondo-D’Hanis, the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter.
Fans looking to catch the What the Hail?! benefit show in person can get tickets online now. Those unable to attend but wanting to donate to the cause can use the same site -- just follow the directions to make a donation without purchasing a ticket.
PICS: See More From Mile 0 Fest 2021—