In terms of deaths, injuries and lost homes, the western part of North Texas was largely spared the worst during last week’s flood, after the remnants of Tropical Depression Bill blew through the already rain-soaked region.
But over the next few weeks, once the water recedes, a massive financial toll likely awaits many cities and other government agencies in Tarrant County.
In Grapevine, rebuilding may take three to four months and cost tens of millions of dollars. About $13 million in damage was caused by flooding during the record May rainfall that preceded Bill by just a couple of weeks. City officials haven’t even begun to put a price tag on the damage caused by Bill — except to say it appears to be even worse.
Even as sunny skies return, many of Grapevine’s parks remain submerged in dirty flood water. Some of its baseball fields and soccer pitches are likely to be unplayable for weeks or much longer.
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“We expect some of our parks to be under water for about 100 days,” said Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate, who late Wednesday signed a disaster declaration and sent voluntary evacuation orders to residents of 800 apartments near Lake Grapevine and its source, Denton Creek.
Like many cities, Grapevine typically builds many of its outdoor amenities in a flood plain, to make use of otherwise extraneous green space. The problem is, during years of particularly heavy rain, the flood plains can fill with water, making the amenities unusable and sometimes damaging them.
Portions of the city’s 27-hole municipal golf course in the shadow of Lake Grapevine dam may have to be completely rebuilt, which could take many months. The course remains closed until further notice.
Roads also were damaged. The cost of repairing highways such as Farm Road 2499 between Grapevine and Flower Mound as well as bridges and other infrastructure damaged by rushing water likely will be tens of millions more, officials from various agencies said.
Local officials will look to state leaders for help covering those costs.
First disaster declaration
Tate had not signed a disaster declaration in 39 years at the city’s helm, until last week. It was the fourth time in the mayor’s memory that water had poured over the dam spillway — but in previous floods, when the city was much smaller, fewer homes were potentially in harm’s way.
In a disaster declaration signed by Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley after the May rainfall, officials estimated $14.3 million in damage from spring storms — about $13 million of it related to Lake Grapevine.
Eight parks and 29 roads, most of them park roads, were still underwater from May rains when the remnants of Bill struck last week.
Nearby Dallas Fort Worth Airport must repair a sinkhole that opened next to a runway, and the initial estimate for that work is $1.26 million, spokesman David Magana said.
Between Grapevine and Flower Mound, a $90 million expansion of Farm Road 2499 is underway. It’s unknown whether the new bridge supports being built over Denton Creek were damaged by flood water. The unfinished concrete supports were submerged in flood water beginning Thursday morning, their wooden construction scaffolding barely visible above the crest of the swollen creek.
“We were prepared for the potential flooding and were able to move equipment and materials from the Denton Creek area before the waters began to rise,” said Kristen Stieg, spokeswoman for the contractor, Northgate Constructors. “Once the water recedes, we will be able to better assess the situation.”
Also, several hundred yards of existing FM 2499 pavement in Flower Mound were under three feet of water when the lake began to overtake the highway Thursday afternoon. That area, which wasn’t part of the construction zone, could require significant repairs, but the Texas Department of Transportation won’t know for sure until the water evaporates or drains away.
On Fairway Drive, the road that cuts across the Lake Grapevine dam heading toward Flower Mound, the top layer of asphalt was sheared off by water rushing over the spillway. An estimate of repair costs hasn’t been made yet.
Fairway Drive is closed until further notice.
Golf course closed
Grapevine Golf Course, which was built in 1979 on the “dry” side of Lake Grapevine dam, has been closed since May rainfall flooded the area.
The course was expanded to 27 holes in 2003, using $5.8 million in revenue bonds and certificates of obligation. It averages about 65,000 rounds of golf per year.
City officials were on the verge of re-opening nine holes when last week’s flooding struck, and now there is no timetable for re-opening any of the course.
The hilly course is widely considered one of the best golfing bargains in the Metroplex, with high-quality fairways and green, and greens fees of less than $50.
All of those hills and crevices were exposed to damage by rushing flood water.
City officials hope the damage is minimal, but are bracing for the possibility they will need to rebuild large swathes of cart paths and bridges, and possibly replace damaged grass.
For most Grapevine residents, last week’s rising flood waters were a close call, a stern warning of the damage Mother Nature can do, often with little warning.
But in the end, as the waters began to recede Sunday, it wasn’t really a big deal, several residents said.
“It’s just inconvenient,” Matthew Meadows, a marketing professional in nearby Coppell, muttered as he left his home at the Marquis Apartments on Grapevine Mills with an overnight bag. He planned to stay at his brother’s home nearby for a few days.
Chris Wise, a home remodeler who just moved into Marquis Apartments two weeks ago, rushed home Thursday morning to gather a few belongings and make sure anything left behind in the first-floor apartment wouldn’t be damaged if rain came in.
“I’ve got to go back in about an hour and start putting some valuable stuff up — furniture, stereo stuff,” he said.
Wise has heard from neighbors that Denton Creek is usually a serene body of water, and a great place to take a walk just outside their complex. But since he moved in, the creek has been engorged with flood water.
“I’ve only been here two weeks. I haven’t seen it in its normal state,” Wise said, adding that he has heard the creek is normally about 15 feet wide, but last week it swelled to 10 times that size. “Two weeks ago it was high. Now it’s unbelievably high.”
Benbrook campground hit
While Grapevine, Flower Mound and DFW Airport seem to be bearing the brunt of the financial blows from flooding, many other cities and other local government agencies will likely suffer losses as well.
At Lake Benbrook, a campground at Holiday Park was extensively damaged, and remains underwater.
Army Corps of Engineers officials hope “part of the campground can be open by Labor Day,” spokesman Jim Frisinger said.
“After the water goes down, assuming there’s no more rain, (a maintenance supervisor) can get people in to repair the camp sites and have electrical connections,” Frisinger said.
It could be weeks before the corps fully grasps the damage to area lakes and infrastructure, he said.
“We’ll be taking some aircraft flights over the next several weeks to check our levees,” he said.
This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796