A Hutto family is seeking help from the city to redirect water that currently flows through their yard during heavy rains, but the city says it’s not up to them.
Mark and Lisa Taylor live next to Cottonwood Creek, but their house is not currently included in floodplain maps. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is in the process of updating maps for Williamson County, and the preliminary changes would expand the creek’s floodplain to include the Taylors’ house.
But the couple says they’re not as concerned with the creek overflowing as they are with the regular drainage that comes from a nearby subdivision and turns their backyard into a stream.
“When any rainfall is in the forecast, any at all, I know I’m going to have this mess in my yard,” Mark Taylor said. Videos he and his wife have recorded over the last few years show ankle-deep water flowing under one end of their fence and running the length of the yard.
The subdivision’s developer dug a detention pond to collect the drainage before it gets to the creek, but the water is finding its own path.
Taylor worries it’s just a matter of time before it gets into the house, which took on about 18 inches of water during the Memorial Day floods in 2015.
“It’s a terrifying feeling,” he said. Last year, in preparation for Hurricane Harvey, Taylor dug a channel through his yard and out past the fence to direct the water away from the house and back toward the creek, but he feels it’s not going to be enough.
With maps and diagrams in hand, he’s been to council and planning meetings and talked to city leaders about possible fixes they can work on together, he said.
But a spokesperson for the city of Hutto told KXAN it’s not up to them.
“We do ensure that developers build infrastructure for construction sufficient to manage storm drainage for a 100-year storm event, and we are requiring developers to meet our streets and drainage standards,” Eliska Padilla said in a statement.
Padilla also said the city is “empathetic” to the family’s situation of being drawn into a floodplain, but that’s not something they can control, either.
Meanwhile the Taylors are looking for a solution. “It’s disheartening,” Mark Taylor said, “because we know it’s going to happen again someday.”
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