Dozens res­cued as floods fol­low heavy rains

Storms del­uge Wil­liamson, Travis; po­lice or­der evac­u­a­tions as San Gabriel River leaves its banks.

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Ari­ana Gar­cia and Mary Hu­ber ari­ana.gar­cia@coxinc.com mhu­ber@states­man.com

Author­i­ties res­cued dozens of peo­ple in Wil­liamson and Travis coun­ties early Satur­day af­ter thun­der­storms ham­mered Cen­tral Texas, drop­ping nearly 10 inches of rain in some spots and caus­ing flash floods, road clo­sures and power out­ages.

Ap­prox­i­mately 90 peo­ple were forced to evac­u­ate the Rio de Colores wed­ding venue in Lib­erty Hill as wa­ters rose to dan­ger­ous lev­els, of­fi­cials said. Al­most 30 were able to es­cape the build­ing on their own, but at least 50 peo­ple needed to be res­cued by lo­cal author­i­ties af­ter wa­ter trapped them in­side, Wil­liamson County spokes­woman Con­nie Odom said.

The Wil­liamson County sher­iff ’s of­fice is­sued evac­u­a­tion or­ders Satur­day morn­ing for peo­ple liv­ing on McShep­herd Road along the San Gabriel River near Ge­orge­town, and on County Road 129 and County Road 123 along Brushy Creek. More than 16 trailer homes also were evac­u­ated in the Shady Oaks RV Park off Texas 29, east of In­ter­state 25 near Ge­orge­town along the river.

“Some (res­i­dents) needed places to stay be­cause they lost every­thing in the flood,” Odom said.

Wil­liamson County Sher­iff Robert Chody re­ported sev­eral wa­ter res­cue calls in the county Satur­day morn­ing.

The San Gabriel River over­flowed into the streets of Ge­orge­town, crest­ing at 24.2 feet. Of­fi­cials said the river rose to mod­er­ate flood lev­els be­fore re­ced­ing Satur­day af­ter­noon as flood warn­ings were can­celed in the area. The river is typ­i­cally about

3 feet in depth, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice.

Storms knocked out power for hun­dreds of res­i­dents in the area, of­fi­cials said. On­cor re­ported 212 cus­tomers with­out power in Round Rock and other ar­eas in Wil­liamson County on Satur­day morn­ing.

In Austin, first re­spon­ders re­ported two wa­ter res­cues with no se­ri­ous in­juries, of­fi­cials said. The Austin Fire Depart­ment said Satur­day morn­ing it had res­cued a fe­male driver who was trapped in high wa­ter in the 10000 block of Gregg Lane in Manor.

A to­tal of 92 low-wa­ter cross­ings were closed Satur­day morn­ing in the Austin area, in­clud­ing sev­eral in Round Rock.

Me­te­o­rol­o­gists said the heav­i­est rains were in Wil­liamson County near Lib­erty Hill, Hutto and Ge­orge­town, with rain­fall es­ti­mates be­tween 6 and 8 inches. Me­te­o­rol­o­gists said they also re­ceived re­ports of rain es­ti­mates as high as 9.88 inches in Hutto.

In Travis County, the heav­i­est rains fell near Pflugerville, with es­ti­mates from 5 to 6 inches of rain fall­ing overnight, me­te­o­rol­o­gists said.

Heavy rains also lashed other ar­eas across Texas, pos­ing dan­gers for res­i­dents and first re­spon­ders. In Dal­las, a 23-year-old man drowned near the Univer­sity of Texas at Ar­ling­ton when flood­wa­ters swept him away as he crossed a bridge. His body was re­cov­ered early Satur­day.

Dal­las Fire-Res­cue of­fi­cials said five po­lice of­fi­cers were trapped in high wa­ter as they tried to res­cue a stranded mo­torist. Res­cuers pulled the of­fi­cers and mo­torist to safety be­fore head­ing to help nine other peo­ple in a flooded home nearby.

By Satur­day af­ter­noon, over­cast skies had mostly re­placed the heavy rains in Cen­tral Texas.

The Fall Pecan Street Fes­ti­val in down­town Austin con­tin­ued as planned. At the Univer­sity of Texas game against Texas Chris­tian Univer­sity, it was also busi­ness as usual. The low chance of rain Satur­day af­ter­noon al­lowed Longhorn fans to come out in force, with few rain jack­ets and pon­chos scat­tered around the stu­dent sec­tion.

The dense clouds drove Aimee Low, a 22-year-old grad­u­ate stu­dent, to stay vig­i­lant and bring her rain­coat.

“This whole week it has not been sup­posed to rain ac­cord­ing to my weather app, but I’ve got­ten drenched all week, so I don’t trust my weather app,” Low said at the Dar­rell K Royal-Texas Memo­rial Sta­dium while wait­ing for the game to start. “It looks like it’s go­ing to rain, so I want to be pre­pared.”

Me­te­o­rol­o­gists said the Austin area has seen the worst of the rain­fall as the front that hit the re­gion has since moved east, though there is a chance for light rain Sun­day. Rain­fall chances are ex­pected to rise again dur­ing the week.

“We do have an­other chance of heavy rain Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day as a cold front moves through the re­gion,” Na­tional Weather Ser­vice fore­caster Brett Wil­liams said. “A half-inch to 2 inches is pos­si­ble.”

Wil­liams said the lo­ca­tion where the heav­i­est rains will fall de­pends on where the front might stall, over Wil­liamson County or the Austin area.

WIL­LIAMSON COUNTY SHER­IFF’S OF­FICE

Mem­bers of the Wil­liamson County sher­iff’s wa­ter res­cue team check on cars stranded in wa­ter in the Blue Hole area of Lib­erty Hill early Satur­day. Sev­eral res­cues were car­ried out af­ter pow­er­ful storms in­un­dated the area.

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