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2015-06-04

Flooding, washouts & county rescue boat

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County is still dealing with the aftermath of torrential rains that took place over the last couple of weeks.
As County Judge Richard Evans told commissioners on Thursday, May 28, "We dodged the bullet this time." Apparently Medina River saw a 25-foot rise, but as Evans pointed out, "Another foot and we would have had a lot more problems."
After praising the efficient work of first responders, he pointed out that the "10 to 12 years" between floods allows everyone to "get rusty," which, on the other hand, could be described as a "good thing." However, in order to be thoroughly prepared during flood events, Evans said that procedure manuals would be developed at a later date.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jordan "Jody" Foster, a first responder with the Utopia Volunteer Fire Department, lauded personnel with the county road and bridge department, as well as area volunteer fire fighters for their hard work. "The firefighters went into harm's way to evacuate people," he said, adding, "EMS also did a bang-up job. We had good management that night."
However, down at Medina Lake things didn't quite run as smoothly. During the drought, docks from the county park at the lake were weighed down with vehicle axles. When the lake filled rapidly, apparently the still-tethered docks drifted about 200 feet from shoreline into 25 feet of water.
At that point a watercraft, acting as sort of a tugboat, was needed to guide the docks to shore. Interestingly enough, however, the controversial water rescue boat - now in the possession of the Lakehills VFD - was nowhere to be found. Unlike the proverbial bad penny, it seems, that particular boat never turns up when needed.
Once again, a volunteer firefighter offered his private watercraft to assist in the recovery of the county docks - a situation not overlooked by elected officials.
Now that the docks are once again safe and sound, Evans said, "We expect some revenue from the county park now."
To which Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris replied, "After being closed for three years, the county park will be open in two weeks."
In related business, during the public forum, Robert Rodriguez, a resident of Ratcliffe Ranch Road, off Highway 173 South, asked the county to provide assistance with road repair. "There's a lot of brush, rocks and debris at the low water crossing," he said. "Also, a substantial portion of the road was washed out about a foot deep for about a half mile." Rodriguez suggested that the county apply for federal assistance to repair the damage.
As Evans explained, the county did not sustain sufficient damage to qualify for federal aid. Additionally, Bandera County was not among the 70 counties that Gov. Greg Abbott declared as disaster areas. "We just don't have the number to meet the threshold to be declared a county-wide disaster area," Evans said.
Rodriguez estimated it would take about $750,000 of damage to qualify for federal relief funds. He postulated if the county combines all its costs related to flood and other damage, it might meet the threshold.
Evans asked Rodriguez if he had talked to R&B Superintendant John Andrade about the damage to Ratcliff Ranch Road. He answered in the negative, but said he had spoken to Rutherford. "I estimate it would take about $20,000 to fix it," Rodriguez said.
Additionally, it was generally agreed that while Ratcliffe Road is listed as a county road, it has never been maintained by the county. "I'm not sure what portion of the road is county-maintained," Evans said.
Later it was mentioned that one solution might be for road residents to purchase the materials necessary to repair the road, but to have R&B employees do the work.