BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — With another round of severe storms aimed at Central Texas, residents in Bastrop County — living near the surging Colorado River — fear deadly and devastating flooding, known to ravage their homes and properties for years.
The Tahitian Village, a neighborhood half a mile from the river, has repeatedly been hit by damaging floods, a problem they correlate to poor drainage and culverts in the surrounding area.
Johnny Twist, who has lived in the Tahitian Village for more than two years, says he has repeatedly tried to contact local, county and state authorities for help, but he’s told not much can be done.
Local officials brought a bulldozer to his property to dig a trench, but that only resulted in greater flooding than before, he said. He said this issue is widespread in his neighborhood.
“I’ve tried to come up with several solutions, but every solution I come up with will only result in flooding someone else’s lot worse than mine,” Twist said. “Many residents are being flooded out, and the water is near entering or has already entered the foundations of many homes here due to a poorly engineered drainage and culvert systems.”
Mel Hamner, the Bastrop County Commissioner whose precinct encompasses the Tahitian Villages, said he is aware of the problem and is seeking solutions. He said part of the issue is that drainage and culvert regulations have been inconsistent over the years, with the requirements becoming more strict since historic flooding occurred in 2016.
While the regulations are trending in the right direction to provide more safety, he says it’s unfortunately created an inconsistent “hodge-podge” of drainage culvert sizes in the area.
Hamner said he wants bond money, which was previously intended to be set aside for road improvements, will instead go to contracting an engineering firm to study the land and implement flood mitigation solutions.
“I know that these people feel frustrated and feel like we don’t care — but we do,” Hamner said. “It just takes time.”
Hamner said the engineering firm he is eyeing to contract with has already performed a regional drainage study, which should expedite the construction process, when it is initiated. However, he said the contract must still be approved by the county’s purchasing department and the county must allow for a bid process to occur first, which could take months, if not years.
He’s asking for the people in the Tahitian Village to be patient as the county continues to explore disaster mitigation strategies.