Hays County begins recovery after flooding damages public property, roads

Flooding throughout Central Texas in late October displaced Hays County residents, caused millions of dollars of damage to public and private property and did little to ease the state's ongoing drought, officials said.

According to the National Weather Service, areas of Hays County including San Marcos, Kyle and Buda received more than 10 inches of rain throughout the night on Oct. 30–31.

Buda Planning Director Chance Sparks said the city received 12 inches of rain in a span of six hours. Flooding hit the Onion Creek Village, Buda Elementary School and Buda Fire Department. Some communication equipment was also damaged and some roads had minor damage, but Sparks said no roads sustained major damage.

In all, Sparks said about 25 people were evacuated, mostly from Onion Creek Village, to Santa Cruz Catholic Church. There were three water rescues in Buda, but none resulted in fatalities, he said.

"By and large, considering the event, we got off fairly lucky," Sparks said.

In Kyle, street closures included the northbound I-35 access road near the Saddlecreek Apartments, Kelly Smith Lane and Windy Hill, Lehman and Burleson roads.

The city of Kyle made emergency repairs to Windy Hill Road after the flooding caused more than $12,000 in damages to the road and traffic barricades. Mayor Lucy Johnson said the city is confident it will be reimbursed by either the state or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

City officials said two police cruisers and various public facilities also sustained damage.

Assistant City Manager James Earp said the flooding could have been a lot worse.

"Generally speaking, it was a significant event, but at the same time, I think the staff you have working for you did a great job in helping secure the health and welfare of [Kyle residents]," Earp said.

County officials said no Hays County residents died or sustained major injuries in the flood.

Kharley Smith, Hays County emergency management coordinator, said communities along Cypress Creek in Wimberley and Onion and Little Bear creeks in Buda as well as areas surrounding the San Marcos and Blanco rivers were the most devastated areas.

About 20 roads in San Marcos were closed, and residents of Riviera Drive, which backs up to the San Marcos River, were evacuated from their homes on the morning of Oct. 31.

Disaster area

County Judge Bert Cobb sent a letter to Gov. Rick Perry on Nov. 5 declaring Hays County a disaster area.

Smith said the declaration makes the county and cities eligible for state funds and could help ease the recovery for residents and business owners affected by the floods.

Smith said she was pleased with the response from fire departments and emergency responders from municipalities and entities throughout the county, who did not allow what she called "jurisdictional boundaries" to hamper the disaster response.

"They are one organization despite the name on their truck and the patch on their shirt," Smith said.

Drought

LaMarriol Smith, public affairs officer for the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, which supplies water to San Marcos, Buda, Kyle and other cities in Central Texas, said extreme weather patterns are not unusual in Texas.

"The mantra is 'droughts are broken by floods in Texas,'" she said. "That's why there are areas that are called 'flash-flood alleys.' When those rain events occur in those dry areas, the water piles up quickly."

She said the rainfall caused the levels at Canyon Lake to rise 4 feet since the rain began late on Oct. 30.

But the drought is not over, she said.

Canyon Lake's water level is currently at 901 feet above sea level, she said. That is up from a measurement on Oct. 27 that put the level at 897 feet, but still below the normal conservation level of 909 feet.

"With the recent rains, some people might believe that the state is no longer feeling the effects of drought conditions," she said. "However, that would be misleading. While this is helpful, what is needed is for the rain to fall on or above area reservoirs so that there will be inflow into the reservoirs, and [that will] ultimately replenish domestic water supplies."

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