Residents in Bastrop County prepare for floods as Colorado River rises

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SMITHVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — The latest from the City of Bastrop and Bastrop County are calling for the Colorado River to crest at 29.3 feet. The flood stage for the river is 23 feet. That sort of news would send a chill down the spine of anyone who lives on the banks of the River.

That’s not the case (at all) for Lyn Chumbler, who lives just north of Smithville, TX. – a few miles downriver of Bastrop. 

Chumbler, an Air Force retiree after 26 years of service, feels almost at home when the water is inching closer to his property. He was mostly in the Air Force doing search and rescue.

“We have a motorized kayak and we’ll get out and check out the water – nothing dangerous. Just to get out and see what’s out there,” says Chumbler. 

The rains on Friday fell on an already saturated central Texas. The waters have filled nearly every reservoir on the Colorado River west and north of Austin, and every tributary of the Colorado River that’s dry is now filled with water. 

Those conditions have triggered a warning from the National Weather Service for communities and neighborhoods on the river to take heed to their warning: 

Floods are coming. 

Whether the floods will pack a punch to homes and property is yet to be seen. But when KXAN met with Chumbler, he and his river-front property had seen plenty. 

“We’ve seen four-wheelers comedown already refrigerators, and different debris,” says Chumbler. 

Chumbler’s neighbors in the Hidden Shores Loop also were not the panicking type. Some brought out the fishing rods and reels to see if they could snag a displaced carp or catfish. 

Government agencies were less nonchalant of the matter. 

“…All those that could potentially be impacted by this have been notified. The City will continue to monitor the situation. We will also continue to be in contact with LCRA, the National Weather Service, and all other appropriate Emergency Management partners,” said Sgt. Vicky Steffanic of the Bastrop Police Department in an email to KXAN. 

In fairness, neighbors who live along the Colorado River are more than well versed in their robust river breaching its banks. The Lower Colorado River Authority notes there have been more than 80 major floods on the river since 1840’s. 

Yet, this episode of the Colorado rising serves as a bit of a warning shot. Two days from now, more rain is forecasted for central Texas. With the ground at peak saturation and lakes filled, any more water could force the opening of dams on the Colorado River. 

Making Saturday’s flood minimal in the grand scheme of things. 

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