There is a reason that the Austin area is considered “one of the most flash-flood prone regions in North America”. According to the Lower Colorado River Authority, Austin has received between 8 and nearly 16 inches of rain in the last two weeks and the ground was saturated before that. Today, 3-4 more inches dumped on Austin and its surrounding area from a round of severe thunderstorms. Rivers and streams throughout Central Texas are spilling over, flooding, causing damage, and endangering lives. Additionally there have been tornado warnings throughout the day and continue for some. Once again, Central Texas has proved that it’s subject to flooding and with disastrous results.
On Saturday, the beautiful little Blanco River overflowed its banks, inundating the nearby towns of San Marcos and Wimberley, as well as other smaller communities. As of now, there is at least one dead and a number, not yet determined, missing. Homes washed away, businesses flooded, stately Bald Cypress Trees, alive when Texas was part of Mexico, were uprooted and tossed aside like skinny twigs; the damage is hard to look at and comprehend. Throughout Texas and Oklahoma, severe storms and heavy rain has been the norm over the past few weeks. Late spring weather patterns can produce severe weather events in Central Texas. Having suffered an 8 year drought and with the unfamiliarity of Central Texas’ mercurial weather patterns, many who’ve moved here in the last couple of decades don’t realize how catastrophic heavy rainfall is.
I’ve lived in Austin since moving here in 1978 to attend The University of Texas. I was a student during the historic 1981 Memorial Day flood; thirteen people died that day. You can read about that devastating event here and here and here. The flooding of these past few days will probably not be the history maker that the 1981 flood was, but it’s bad enough.
This rain “bomb” may be what breaks our 8 year drought–time will tell. The local lakes, which supply water to this increasingly populated region of the U.S. are rising and quickly, though none are at full capacity yet. The higher levels of Lake Travis and the other dammed reservoirs in Central Texas is the positive result of the heavy rainfall and resulting flooding. In Texas, it is often a spring flooding event or a late summer/fall tropical storm or hurricane that breaks the hold of a drought.
Here in Texas, you learn to take the good with the bad.
My own home is fine. My family and neighbors are all safe. Water-logged soil with droopy plants, my gardens will recover. As I write this, the rain has stopped and almost all of the water has drained from my gardens and pathways. I am very grateful.
We are appreciative and full of admiration for the first responders–police, firefighters, EMS workers who risk their lives to rescue citizens from floating cars and flooded homes.
They are heroes.
The world is full of tragic stories. It requires only few minutes of listening to or watching news to feel despondent and helpless about disasters, prevalent and ongoing, made by humans or gifted by nature. If you feel compelled to help flood victims who have lost their homes in Central Texas, see the American Red Cross website. Please remember and give what you can to others who are in need–wherever they may be.