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Tarrant County estimates damage from storms at $14.3 million

Katie's Woods Park is shown underwater in this file photo. Grapevine Lake is still 25 feet above normal, meaning city officials may have to wait months to assess the damage to its parks and roads around the lake.
Katie's Woods Park is shown underwater in this file photo. Grapevine Lake is still 25 feet above normal, meaning city officials may have to wait months to assess the damage to its parks and roads around the lake. Star-Telegram

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley signed a local disaster declaration Thursday as officials estimated $14.3 million in damage from spring storms, mostly related to Lake Grapevine.

“I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capability of the local jurisdiction to control,” Whitley said in the declaration.

Gov. Greg Abbott had already provisionally added Tarrant County to a state disaster declaration, along with Dallas County, on June 3. But officials had to document that the county met the $6.4 million threshold in uninsured property losses.

With the local declaration, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will come to Tarrant County to verify the damage. If the damage is documented, Tarrant County would eventually be added to the federal disaster declaration for Texas, said Tonya Hunter, the county’s emergency management coordinator.

Most of the damage has been around Lake Grapevine, where eight parks and 29 roads, most of them park roads, remain under water.

Grapevine officials estimate the damage at $13 million, knowing that some of the parks and the roads will likely be flooded for at least two months.

“It is very difficult to estimate with everything still under water,” said Liz Dimmick, Grapevine’s emergency management coordinator. “The known costs are staff overtime and the roads being inundated. At this point, we’re assuming 100 percent loss, but that could be scaled back at a later date.”

Dallas/Fort Worth Airport has also submitted a report for the sinkhole that opened next to a runway last month.

Spokesman David Magana said the preliminary estimate put the repair cost at $1.26 million. “That information has been shared with Tarrant County for purposes of including it in a county-wide disaster declaration request for consideration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” Magana wrote in an email.

At Lake Grapevine, the amount of water released will be limited until Aug. 11 to lessen flooding downstream on the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, said Denisha Braxton, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth district of the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the lake. Water isn’t expected to stop going over the spillway until June 21.

“We went 51/2 feet higher than in 2007,” said Randy Sell, Grapevine’s parks and events manager. “That means more roads, more complexes. It definitely compromises the roads and the substructure but to what extent and how far, we don’t know.”

Parts of Tarrant County have been hit with flash flooding that damaged roads, bridges and culverts, Hunter said. The Southlake and Grapevine area had some wind damage from storms May 10.

“It’s mostly been overfull lakes or flash flooding,” Hunter said. “The soil has been so saturated with water.”

While areas of Lake Grapevine remain under water, other cities haven’t seen problems so serious. Fort Worth has found no major damage, said Juan Ortiz, the city’s emergency management coordinator, but officials are still waiting to check areas around Lake Worth.

“Once we start seeing the lake levels go down, we’ll have a better sense of the damage,” Ortiz said.

Mansfield had virtually no damage to assess despite 10 rain events and several floods during May, said fire Lt. Greg Cutler, the city’s emergency management coordinator.

Most of the flooding was limited to the Walnut Creek Linear Park, where the creek washed out of its banks several times in May. Normally 8 feet deep, the creek reached a high of 28 feet during what Cutler called a “moderate flood.”

The foundation of a railroad crossing at Walnut Creek Drive washed out, but a Union Pacific repair crew was quickly on the scene, Cutler said.

“They had a hole with two rails going over it,” Cutler said. “But Union Pacific came in and repaired it — in the same day.”

Staff writers Andrea Ahles and Robert Cadwallader contributed to this report.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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