Central Texas recovering from Memorial Day weekend storms

Unknown Object Lake Travis has surpassed 655 feet mean sea level for the first time in four years.[/caption]

UPDATE: 12 p.m. CST 5/26/15

The United Way for Greater Austin has established a Disaster Recovery Fund to help raise money for Memorial Day weekend flood victims in Central Texas.

Anyone wishing to help can visit unitedwayaustin.org/floods to donate or contribute to flood victims specifically in Hays County by texting FLOODS to 41444.

The city of Austin has also extended a watercraft ban on Lady Bird Lake until at least noon May 27 due to unsafe conditions created by heavy rains and flooding, according to a news release.

Water levels at most of the rivers and streams to flood in recent days have receded to more manageable levels.

Flood recovery has started for many Austin-area residents and businesses following extensive rainfall during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Central Texas cities San Marcos and Wimberley suffered from severe flooding May 23, causing an unconfirmed number of deaths and millions of dollars in property damage. Hard rains again hit the area May 25, resulting in significant flooding in downtown Austin and the rest of Central Texas.

“While the worst appears to be behind us for now, I'm confident that this community will pull together to help our neighbors recover from the effects of this 'return' of Memorial Day flooding,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to local residents affected by the flooding and to our neighbors in Hays County. We'll pull together as one community—and one region—to support recovery efforts as we move forward."

Lake Travis, the Austin area’s primary water supply, received a strong boost from the torrential downpours. Between five to 10 inches of rain fell within the Lake Travis watershed—the area where runoff water flows into the lake—in the past week, helping to increase the lake’s levels by 23 feet mean sea level in that span. In total, Lake Travis is up 32 feet msl since Jan. 2. However, lake levels are still 15 feet below the 670 feet msl historical May average, according to data from the Lower Colorado River Authority, which manages the Highland Lakes.

The news is far different immediately north at Lake Buchanan, another body of water in the  Highland Lakes system which received little rainfall or runoff. Lake Buchanan stands at just 41 percent full, and Lake Travis, on the other hand, is 63 percent full. Combined the Highland Lakes are 54 percent full, the highest total since April 2011, according to LCRA data.

The story will be updated as more information from LCRA and other sources becomes available.
By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


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