Judge declares local disaster, Austin waterway ban until Tuesday, and ways you can help flood victims

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Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt declared the county a local disaster due to flooding this week. In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, Eckhardt said she “determined the incident will be of such severity that effective recovery will be beyond Travis County’s capability without state and/or federal assistance.”

“Numerous homes around Lake Travis have flooded or are expected to flood as the water continues to rise while the Lower Colorado River Authority moves record amounts of water through the highland lakes of the Colorado River in Travis County,” Eckhardt said in the letter.

On Tuesday, Abbott issued a state disaster declaration for 18 Texas counties, including Travis and Williamson counties.

Waterway ban through Tuesday

All recreational and commercial use of Austin’s waterways have been banned through noon Oct. 23 by interim Fire Chief Tom Dodd.

According to a release by the Austin Fire Department, high waters, swift current and debris caused by flooding are the causes for the closures, which include:

  • The entirety of Lake Austin from the Mansfield Dam to Tom Miller Dam
  • Lady Bird Lake
  • Colorado River downstream of Longhorn Dam
  • All creeks within the city of Austin

Dodd’s notice said any watercraft operated on waters in the flood ban area may be impounded.

Ways to help victims of flooding

Austin metro residents have several options when it comes to donating for flood relief. The Austin Disaster Relief Network has sent disaster assessment teams and seeks volunteers to assist the American Red Cross with shelter management in Llano and Kingsland.

According to www.ADRN.org, warehouses will begin receiving donations by Friday. A list of needed items, locations, dates and hours of collections will be available on the website Friday.

Financial assistance to meet the immediate needs of flood victims is possible through donations which have a $200,000 match.

More information on how to help flood victims through ADRN is available here, while donations to the American Red Cross of Central and South Texas may be made here.

NWS extends flash flood watch

The National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio again extended the flash flood watch until 7 p.m. Friday for Central Texas, including Travis, Williamson, Hays and Comal counties.

NWS officials in the weather statement said several clusters of moderate to localized heavy showers are expected to affect most areas along and west of the I-35 corridor from Austin to San Antonio Thursday night into Friday.

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Joe Warner
Joe Warner is managing editor of the nine Austin-Central Texas editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.
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