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2016-06-16

Commishes discuss flooding aftermath

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County Road & Bridge Superintendent John Andrade offered commissioners a sit-rep on the aftermath of devastating storms that wreaked havoc throughout the county during Memorial Day weekend.
To no one’s surprise, Andrade noted, “The only low water crossing still closed is English Crossing. Live Oak opened about 45 minutes ago.” Andrade told commissioners that a 35-foot by 30-foot approach structure to English Crossing had been washed away. “The deck is still intact and was not damaged,” Andrade said. However, repairs must wait until after the water recedes.
During what he described as “the initial hit” on May 19, 39 low water crossings were closed across the county. After the first storm, English Crossing was open for a day and a half before being closed again.
However, the recent storms have put rehabilitation efforts at Wharton’s Dock “on hold” as four road crews were shifted where needed. In fact, all road rehab projects have been suspended. “The night of the storm, crews were trapped in parking lots at Lowe’s and True Value hardware shops,” Andrade said.
He also confirmed that electrical power lost at 12:30 am, May 29, didn’t come back on until 2:30 pm the following afternoon.
In addition to the one at English Crossing, low water crossings at Live Oak Ridge and Upper Mason Creek suffered the most structural damage. “The concrete was peeled back. We’ll have to get estimates on upgrades,” Andrade said.
“Maybe now we’ll get to use some of that fund balance,” quipped Judge Richard Evans.
C&D Escalante Concrete Construction estimated concrete repairs for Bottle Springs-English Crossing to be $38,800; Live Oak Road, $22,848; and Lower Mason Creek Road, $18,240.
Long-range repairs may need to go out for formal bids, depending on the cost, Evans noted. “Something has to be done,” Andrade said. “People on Live Oak were trapped for 10 days.”
Turning to the near-disaster at the Twin Lakes dams, Andrade said county crews had pumped 28 to 30 million gallons of water out of the private lake. Additionally, personnel with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had issued advisory flyers to residents of the subdivision, but no evacuation was necessary.
Evans noted that the county does not maintain the road over the dam or the dams themselves.
Commissioners commented that they might have to “force the issue with TCEQ officials” regarding requiring the subdivision developer to initiate dam repairs. As was noted, “This has been going on for a long time (with no resolution).”
However, another private dam, Moser Dam, build above Twin Lakes, was deemed to be structurally sound.
During an after-action meeting the night of Wednesday, June 8, suggestions were made to implement more timely evacuations of RV parks located along the Medina River. “We’ll treat this as a wake-up call,” Evans said.
“We want to thank members of the county’s volunteer fire departments, along with road and bridge crews and dispatchers and deputies with the sheriff’s office,” he continued. “Without everyone working together, there would have been a bigger loss of lives and property. You all did a great job.”
Additionally, Bandera County had been included in Gov. Greg Abbott’s original 31-county Declaration of Disaster – the first step for eventually receiving federal resources for repairs. The county must meet a threshold of $80,000 before outside funding kicks in.
As Evans noted, “Flooding is fast; recovery takes forever.”