AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s Watershed Protection department director said it is clearing and monitoring “hot spots” known to experience flooding ahead of storms rolling into central Texas this weekend.
Those hot spots include street inlets and storm culverts that run along Austin’s vast stretch of creek beds. Storm culverts became clogged with tree debris during a storm on April 20 which led to the flooding of homes along Mearns Meadow Boulevard.
Clearing creek beds
The city council passed a resolution last week providing aid for homeowners that experienced flood damage, and it also directed Watershed Protection, Austin Resource Recovery and the Parks and Recreation Department to develop a plan to clear out creek beds of tree debris. The debris in the creek beds comes from the winter storm in late January.
“Our priority is to triage. So we focus on the 20 to 30 feet in front of the culvert, but walking up and down the creek, that’s something we’re still working on a strategy moving forward,” Jorge Morales, the director of watershed protection, explained. The department has to develop a plan by the end of the month and present it to the council.
James Rodgers, who lives in north Austin near Little Walnut Creek and looks after the creek bed, thinks watershed should extend the area it clears.
“So they are in a mode of reacting and they need to be in a mode of preventing,” Rodgers explained. He pointed to broken branches that could become problems in the future, and said the watershed department should work to clear them before they become clogged.
Morales said his department has been receiving 311 calls from community members talking about debris in creek beds and clogged culverts or inlets. He said this year has been unique because they are still seeing debris from the winter storm.
“They may just be dangling right now but any storm can knock it down and become debris that wasn’t there, even if our crews were out there just last week,” Morales said.
Morales said there will be WPD crews on standby during the storm ready to clear out inlets that they can reach if they become clogged. Morales said anyone who sees an area experiencing a clog needs to call 311 to report the problem. If the flooding is becoming an emergency for someone, they need to call 911.
Be storm prepared
Morales suggests homeowners in the floodplain prepare by getting food and water stocked for the weekend.
He also suggests looking at the ATX flood website to see which roads are closed and signing up for Warn Central Texas to get alert updates during the storm.