For Bart Salter, the rising floodwaters in his Parker County neighborhood were more of a nuisance than a serious threat.
On Thursday, Salter said water was seeping through storm-drain pipes and slowly flooding parts of Horseshoe Bend, a rural neighborhood southwest of Weatherford near the Brazos River.
“We’re in good shape right now,” Salter said, explaining that most of the roads are passable. “It’s not near as bad as what everybody was saying.”
Salter, who owns rental properties in Horseshoe Bend, stayed to watch out for possible looters despite a voluntary evacuation order. He thinks most residents honored the request to leave the neighborhood of about 250 homes.
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Because of heavy rains upstream, the Brazos River near Dennis, northwest of Horseshoe Bend, was at 22.74 feet at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, almost 2 feet above the flood stage of 21 feet. It was projected to crest near 24 feet late Thursday or Friday.
The last two floodgates that the Brazos River Authority had opened this week at Possum Kingdom Lake’s dam were closed Thursday morning.
But with a continued threat of rain, more flooding is possible. Besides overnight thunderstorms, there’s a 60 percent chance of rain Friday and Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
The region is only 1.35 inches from breaking a record for the wettest May. According to the weather service forecast, the record was likely to fall overnight.
The flooding at Horseshoe Bend was well below the 27.55 feet that the Brazos reached during the last major flood — on June 29, 2007 — and far less than the record crest of 31.88 feet on Oct. 14, 1981.
A balancing act
Any more rain would require a balancing act by the Brazos River Authority, which owns and operates three lakes — Possum Kingdom, Granbury and Limestone.
Downstream, the Army Corps of Engineers manages eight lakes in the Brazos watershed, including Lake Whitney. As a corps lake, Whitney was built for flood control. By contrast, Possum Kingdom and Granbury were built to supply water to the region.
“Once our lakes are full, there’s no place to store the water,” said Brad Brunett, water services manager for the Brazos River Authority, which controls the release of water from Possum Kingdom Lake upstream.
Twenty-one of the 25 corps lakes in the Fort Worth district are holding water in their flood pools. Lewisville Lake, Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Lavon are in the surplus stage above the flood pool. But Lake Whitney was only 12 percent into its flood pool, said Clay Church, a spokesman for the corps’ Fort Worth district.
“We can handle quite a bit more water at Whitney,” Church said.
At Possum Kingdom, radar estimates showed that 2 to 5 inches fell right on top of the lake Tuesday night. It rose about a foot in six hours, forcing the river authority to start releasing water.
After the gates were opened, the lake took about 24 hours to sink back to where it was before Tuesday’s downpour.
Brunett wasn’t ruling out more rises along the river if storms form on top of the lake or downstream below the dam.
“It could produce rises even without any releases,” Brunett said. “It is certainly possible heavy rain could lead to more rises.”
‘It is still dangerous’
Early Thursday, Parker County officials rescued one man and his two dogs from the Horseshoe Bend area but reported no other problems.
Parker County spokesman Joel Kertok said water was lapping at the foundations of some homes but hasn’t gone higher.
“I don’t think we can breathe a sigh of relief, especially with the forecast,” Kertok said. “… It is still dangerous. It could still be deadly. We are urging people to stay away from the river.”
Elsewhere, heavy rain caused flash flooding in Cooke and Grayson counties Thursday morning. Parts of the Interstate 35 access road were briefly closed near the outlet mall in Gainesville. And parts of U.S. 82 east of Gainesville were also briefly shut down.
Flooding also caused Gainesville’s Frank Buck Zoo to close Thursday.
In Horseshoe Bend, Salter hoped for no more serious flooding but said he was ready if the water started rising.
“I’ve got my best friend beside me,” Salter said. “I’ve got my paddles with me wherever I go.”
Staff writer Monica S. Nagy contributed to this report.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698