LLANO COUNTY, TEXAS (KXAN) — This recent bout of flooding has been tough on the fifty or so families who live in the Rio Llano subdivision just three miles outside of the city of Llano. Access to their neighborhood depends on a slab that allows them to drive over Johnson Creek, but the flooding collapsed that slab leaving residents stranded.
Ralph Stevenson who has lived in the neighborhood for 23 years explained that people there are used to getting trapped by rising water for short periods of time, but they can usually get out after a day or so. He explained that the rising waters trapped them in on Sunday and it wasn’t until Friday that he was able to leave.
During that time, Stevenson said he and his neighbors pulled together to make sure resources got around
“A guy in a kayak brought over some supplies that we helped deliver,” he explained.
The rain let up long enough on Friday that Llano County was able to bring in road crews to build a temporary fix.
And it worked, Stevenson and his wife were able to drive to the store to get food for their animals. But when they returned, the water in the creek was already rushing over the temporary roadway, making it impassable.
This left Stevenson and his wife stranded on the opposite side of the creek from their animals. Fortunately, he bumped into an Austin Fire Department team who had been assisting in Llano County as part of Texas Task Force 1.
The AFD team had been performing swift water rescues and using their boats to ferry other people in need, so they offered to give Stevenson and his wife a lift to the other side. The two strapped on life vests, and within minutes the AFD team had them back with their pets.
“This driveway across was dry earlier,” explained AFD Captain Andy Schultz of the flooded roadway. “And I think a half inch of rain set it up this far, so I got a feeling that in the next few days as rain comes and goes, it’ll be more of this helping people get across.”
Schultz said that much of the work his team is doing now is just like this: running into people, finding out what their needs are, and helping them as best they can. With limited cell service and lots of flooded roads, this kind of extra support is really needed residents say.
“From Austin you don’t realize what’s going on out here, you see how high the river truly is,” Schultz said of the areas around the Llano River.
Stevenson said his family had most of what they needed during the flooding, but some of his neighbors had medical and business needs that made the waiting difficult.
Llano County explained that several residents had to be airlifted out of the neighborhood for medical care.
Stevenson wanted to be clear, he thinks the county has done the best they can responding.
“They are doing an outstanding job because the magnitude of this flood compared other floods in the past, it’s really outstripping the resources available,” Stevenson said noting that living in a rural area means that there are fewer public resources available.
Stevenson said the kindness of his neighbors and the public employees helping out are what will keep him going as he waits for the waters to recede.
“The crews that have been out here working with us, we can’t thank them enough for the support and the things they do for us, they’re all fantastic,” he said.
Jerry Don Moss, the Llano County Commissioner for Precinct 4 which includes Rio Llano neighborhood, emphasized the county has been doing all it can to help residents there. Moss explained that public safety teams from other areas have been helping to bring in helicopters, medicine, food, and water to Rio Llano.
The county was only able to start bringing in a temporary bridge for the neighborhood on Friday because prior to then the water had been to swift, and what was left of the old slab was very unstable.
Moss noted that similar situations are happening all over the county as road flooding lingers. He added that 60 percent of the roads in his precinct are now open.
“We cant say enough about eh help we’ve gotten from the state and cities and other counties, as well as the local fire departments and first responders.”
For residents in Rio Llano, Moss said the long-term goal is to get a more permanent fix, and the county is hoping to get assistance from FEMA to rebuild something that will last.
The Llano County Office of Emergency Management is asking for anyone who has damage to their dwelling to fill out a form to report what they’ve lost. There is a form available at the Llano County Office of Emergency Management Facebook page as are lots of other updates about the recovery process.