Flooding

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A massive update to Austin’s floodplain map shows about 3,000 properties are at higher risk of flooding than previously thought. 

Michael Marks/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Sonora is a place most people only encounter on their way to someplace else. It’s located along Interstate 10, 170 miles west of San Antonio and nearly 400 miles east of El Paso. The town of about 3,000 people is the kind of place that’s rarely in the news. But like a lot of other things in Sonora, that changed on Friday, with an unexpected and catastrophic flood.

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody https://twitter.com/SheriffChody

After areas of Williamson County received more than six inches of rain overnight, the South Fork San Gabriel River in Georgetown has reached moderate flood stage. That prompted officials to evacuate some people living along the river including in the lower level of the Shady River RV Resort off East State Highway 29.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Around 3,000 more Austin properties will find themselves in high-risk floodplains thanks to a new National Weather Service study called Atlas 14. Those new flood designations could impact everything from what you pay for insurance to how you build your home.

Eddie Gaspar for KUT

Texas leads the nation in flash-flood deaths, with more than 75 percent of those deaths occurring at low-water crossings. Now, a part of the state known as “flash flood alley” is turning to technology to help.

City workers in Austin are visiting creeks at low-water crossings to install cameras that will make images of flooding available to the public in real-time.

@ZachTWesterman/Twitter

From Texas Standard.

Residents living in the Rio Grande Valley have experienced several days of heavy rains this week, which have overwhelmed cities like McAllen and Weslaco.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In a letter to construction contractor S.J. Louis, the City of Austin calls the Waller Creek tunnel “diminished” and “defective,” and writes that shoddy construction has reduced “the primary purpose of the tunnel, flood protection.”

That might lead you to think the tunnel won’t serve its purpose to divert floodwaters away from downtown Austin. But in interviews Friday, city staff said the tunnel should work fine.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

A joint investigation by the Associated Press and the Houston Chronicle reveals something about Hurricane Harvey recovery that officials aren’t talking about – massive petrochemical contamination, a toxic impact of the storm that’s far more widespread than previously suspected.

Bureaucracy And Old Data Hobble FEMA Flood Maps

Mar 8, 2018
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Since Hurricane Harvey, questions have been raised about why so many homes and businesses flooded in the first place. Now a peer-reviewed study in the journal, Environmental Research Letters suggests one possible answer: because the federal flood maps people have been relying on are wrong.  

Gabriel C. Perez / KUT

A website that warns Central Texans about road flooding is getting an overhaul this month. The designers of the new site say the changes should give visitors more detail about flooding near them.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

We’ve reached a meaningful marker since Hurricane Harvey battered many communities in Texas – it’s been six months now since the storm. The recovery effort was supposed to be a model in streamlining, but now we know it’s been kind of a tangled mess.

We’ve brought you the voices of city leaders and Texas residents who say getting back on their feet after Harvey has been very hard and the process of getting help from federal and state officials has been slow.

PROJay Phagan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

After Hurricane Harvey, many Texans realized just how wrong experts were about flood control measures in the state’s most populous city. But Houston isn’t the only Texas city at risk from bad or outdated flood plans.

An investigation by the Corpus Christi Caller Times found that the city’s flood maps are outdated – they’ve gone without revision for three decades. The maps were first drafted for a vastly different Corpus Christi.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Thousands of residents living near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs in northwest Houston are still in cleanup mode after their homes were inundated. It was only after the rain stopped falling that many of those homeowners discovered they were living in zones intended to be flooded in order to save downtown Houston from disaster.

Weren’t developers required to tell buyers this information? If officials knew these areas were flood pools, why would they permit construction on these sites in the first place?

Hurricane Harvey was the worst flood in Houston's history. Scientists and citizens are still piecing together why it was so bad, but it's becoming clear that a lot of the damage comes down to how people have built America's fourth-largest city.

You can see the problem from your car. Houston is a sprawling web of strip malls and 10-lane freeways.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

A Harvey evacuee at the Delco Center was getting treated for a wound on her head last week when workers discovered she was diabetic.

“The people of CVS immediately ordered the insulin," says Adryana Aldeen, who was volunteering with the Red Cross that day. "She was out of insulin.”

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

As greenhouse gasses heat the atmosphere, we can expect more severe floods and droughts. That could be trouble for critical infrastructure like bridges and roads in many cities, including here in Central Texas.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

April Marshall stood among the remains of her mother’s home last month in southeast Travis County, pointing out the new, donated couch still wrapped plastic. The family was still in the process of furnishing their home wrecked by flooding in October, when roughly three feet of floodwaters rushed their home again in May.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Over the past week, the Brazos River has risen to its highest level in more than 100 years. The rains that caused the overflow have led to at least six deaths in Texas.

Meteorologists are predicting that some 10 inches of rain will fall in the Houston area over the next several days. If so, we may be looking at another round of devastation in the fourth largest city in the nation. Houston has activated its emergency operations center.


UPDATE 5 p.m.: There's a flash flood warning in effect for southwest Austin and western Travis County until 6:30 p.m.

Don't Get Soaked by Buying a Flood-Damaged Car

May 11, 2016
Jocelyn Augustino/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

You may have noticed we've had a damp past few months. Of the many images from the recent downpours across Texas, few of those images communicate the depth of it all better than photos of capsized cars, up to their windshields in floodwaters. Even more dramatic is if your own vehicle has been flooded. Recently, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced it's stepping in to help compensate many of those who have lost their cars due to water damage.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This year's heavy rains and severe thunderstorms have city officials asking Austin’s small business owners to set aside time to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies.

David Hook was working at his furniture store last year when floodwaters began seeping in from under the door. He was able to move a lot of the merchandise out of the water’s way.


New technology developed here in Austin promises to give advanced warning for floods, but what exactly would that mean for first responders struggling to rescue people? A look at recent flooding in Central Texas shows how a project to provide real-time flood prediction software on a national scale could help.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Public safety officials and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have unveiled a new national flood prediction system, which researchers say will increase the amount of river and creek flood forecasts by more than 700 percent and offer a new approach that will save lives in Central Texas and beyond. 


Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Recreation centers in Austin are still open through Sunday to help people with shelter, supplies and questions about their properties.

At the Dove Springs Recreation Center earlier this week, Leona Albrecht, her husband and six kids were sitting down eating a meal donated by a church group. Their apartment near the Onion Creek Bridge was flooded late last week.

"We probably lost half to three fourths of the house, and at the moment, no way to replace it," Albrecht says. "All we can do is just trash everything."


Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Wednesday 9:08 a.m. The FAA has reopened the top level of its permanent air traffic control tower at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. This allowed airport officials to open the second runway. The radar at the base of the tower still isn't working. You should still check with your airline before heading to the airport. 

EarlierAustin-Bergstrom International Airport will be down to one runway likely until the end of the week, and even then, it could take a while longer before flight schedules return to normal.

ABIA's air traffic control tower flooded last week after almost 15 inches of rain fell on the airport. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials cut electricity to the tower to evaluate the damage and clean-up. 


sterlic/flickr

Flooding last week caused untreated wastewater to end up in creeks around Austin.  In fact, wastewater seems to end up overflowing almost anytime the region experiences a major storm. 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin Energy customers may see an increase in their bill this month.
But the increase isn’t because of higher electricity rates.
The City is changing the way it calculates its drainage fee, and the new fee structure directly affects the city’s ability to handle flooding.


National Weather Service

UPDATE: 7:44 a.m.: The flash flood watch for Central Texas has expired.

Overnight storms brought over an inch of rain to pockets of East Austin, but the majority of the rain fell northwest of the Austin area, forcing LCRA to open up flood gates at both the Starcke and Wirtz dams. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Llano County until early Saturday morning. Last night's rains have brought the Llano River up to 11.95 feet, though officials say the rise won't cause any damage to properties in the area. 

National Weather Service

Update (9:47am): The National Weather Service says there's now a flood advisory in effect until 11am for several counties in the Austin area.

Update (9:06 a.m.): The National Weather Service has ended the flood advisory it issued earlier this morning for parts of Central Texas. 

Low water crossings continue to close in the Austin Area.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

For well over a decade, Austinites have been calling 3-1-1 to report graffiti or a pot hole to city officials. While that’s not going away, a new way to report problems and get questions answered could offer more benefits.

For example, say you want to report that there aren’t any doggie clean-up bags at the park down the street or that there’s a pothole down the road. But, uhh, what’s the address exactly where you’re at? Austin’s 3-1-1 mobile app lets users do many of the same things that can be accomplished with a phone call.

But there are also things the app does that a phone call can’t.

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