Open the flood gates
By John Meng
While this past week we may not have witnessed floods of Biblical proportions, it was certainly serious enough to hinder traffic, interrupt people’s jobs and create anxiety among residents concerned for their homes and property.
On Sunday, May 16, was the first wave of the rain which pummeled Jackson County with an estimated 10 inches in 4 1/2 hours. The resulting diluge overwhelmed ditches, streams and other drainage outlets which caused some flooding of property (including the Herald-Tribune office).
But Sunday was only the first day of what turned out to be a week-long wet and muddy marathon that disrupted city and county businesses, closed U.S Hwy 59 and other roads, created challenges for law enforcement and government officials, and disrupted the lives of thousands of residents.
According to Patrick Brzozowski, general manager at the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority (LNRA), the Jackson County area received an average of nine inches of rain. Some areas, such as Ganado, received as much as 17 inches.
Brzozowski explained that the LNRA dam opened its 12 gates to release 54,000 cubic feet per second of water on Sunday but as of Thursday was only releasing 26,000 cfs.
“The intensity of the storm was similar to Hurricane Harvey which totaled 25 inches of rain,” said Brzozowski. “Of course, this storm was more localized than a hurricane. It was a like a ‘rain bomb’ in intensity, and it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause flooding.”
While the LNRA has 46 precipitation gauges throughout its jurisdiction, Brzozowski noted that gauges at the LNRA office recorded 19.5 inches of rain in only five days.
The City of Edna reportedly had very few problems during the heavy rains.
“The city did very well during the flood,” said Edna City Manager Gary Broz. “The drainage worked. We know we have more drainage problems to fix but we’re taking it one step at time with that work. We had sand bags available for anyone that needed them and our staff was available throughout the storm.”
Last September, the city began work on cleaning ditches and clearing culverts to improve drainage in selected areas of the city. Approximately 21,000 feet of ditches were identified as being the most in need of improvement and city crews teamed up with Merceer Construction of Edna to effect repairs expeditiously.
“What we have done so far worked very well but we know we need to do a lot more,” said Broz.
“Last week’s weather event was a stressful one for many and my prayers go out to those that were greatly affected by the storms,” said Jackson County Judge Jill Sklar. “One thing is for sure, our community always comes together during times like these. Our 911 dispatchers, first responders, electrical company workers, road crews, and neighbors all worked hard to ensure everyone’s safety. I know there are homes and businesses that flooded. I encourage those who were affected to report those damages to the Texas Department of Emergency Management. This information helps our state and federal partners get a much better estimate of the widespread damage. We are still assessing damages for the county, but it appears that the county sustained most of our damages on roads. We will continue to move forward in the recovery efforts.”