McKinney Falls State Park reopens visitors center closed since 2013 flood

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The visitors center at Austin’s only state park reopened Friday, almost eight years after a flood forced the closure of the building.

The Smith Visitors Center at McKinney Falls State Park closed after the deadly 2013 Halloween flood on Onion Creek.

At the peak of the flood there was 40 inches of water inside the center, which Texas Parks and Wildlife says ruined electrical systems, interior walls and exhibits. The building was flooded again in 2015, delaying repairs.

“After years of diligent work by our state parks and infrastructure staff, we are excited to once again open the doors of the Smith Visitors Center,” said Justin Rhodes, deputy director of Texas State Parks. “This facility will serve as a gateway for visitors to familiarize themselves with the unique cultural and natural resources found in the heart of our capital city and provide much needed meeting spaces for a variety of user groups coming to the park.”

The remodeled building is designed to be more flood-resistant, with electrical and HVAC systems installed above flood lines. Concrete materials were used instead of sheetrock, and new exhibits were created with water-resistant materials, partly funded by a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.

The park will host a series of guided programs on Saturday to commemorate the reopening of the visitors center. More information about year-round events at the park can be found on the TPWD website.

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