This Holiday Weekend Marks The 40th Anniversary Of Austin's 1981 Memorial Day Flood
Forty years ago during Memorial Day weekend, a devastating flood ravaged Austin. Heavy rain caused Shoal Creek to overflow. The creek and stretches of streets turned into rivers.
Thirteen people died. Nearly 20 families lost homes. Many businesses were destroyed. The flood caused about $36 million in damage, according to the city.
Neighbors worked together to help those in need, repairing properties and returning lost possessions that were pulled downstream.
Watch news coverage from that weekend from KXAN
This wouldn’t be the last time devastating floods would come to Austin. Located in what's called "Flash Flood Alley," Austin has long been susceptible to flooding.
The city has made efforts to reduce that risk since the disastrous weekend in 1981, creating strategies to warn residents when heavy rain is coming and installing technology like flood gauges and barriers at low water crossings.
“While our projects and efforts have lowered the risk of flooding, we cannot eliminate it completely. Austin is experiencing heavier, more frequent rainfall,” the city says. “We only have to look to the deadly, devastating Halloween Floods of 2013 and 2015, and the Memorial Day Flood of 2015, among others, to see that we still have much more work to do.”
View photos of the 1981 flooding and its aftermath from the Austin History Center: