State highway destroyed by raging waters in West Texas
Nathan Hernandez heard the banging on his apartment door about 5 a.m. Friday. The ground behind the next building over, a neighbor told him, was falling into Lake Granbury.
Hernandez went outside and saw the damage: An uprooted tree leaned against the building with chunks of dirt, grass and rock crumbled from the water to the foundation.
“It looked like a cataclysmic event,” Hernandez said.
Wet soil from recent rains and flooding caused a retaining wall to collapse behind the Lake Front Apartments on Doyle Street, forcing evacuation of all 16 apartment units.
The apartments sit about 15 yards from Lake Granbury. The landslide-type erosion could cause the complex to crumble.
“The land has collapsed back to the foundation,” said Granbury Police Chief Mitch Galvan.
An engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation inspected the structure and said it was too unstable to allow residents back their homes, Galvan said late Friday.
The situation could get worse. About 8 p.m. Friday, the Brazos River Authority was set to open its third gate at the Possum Kingdom Lake dam, pouring about 27,000 cubic feet of water per second — including the flow from the first two gates —down the Brazos River, said Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds.
As a precaution, County Judge Darrell Cockerham ordered the evacuation of about 22 residents in the lower-lying part of Rolling Hills Shores, a neighborhood of mobile homes and site-built pier-and-beam home, Deeds said.
Deeds estimated that with the runoff between the two lakes, the actual total increase in the downstream flow would be closer to 35,000 cubic feet per second.
He said none of the residents defied the mandatory evacuation. “We had no problems,” he said.
Resident have the option of staying at a Red Cross shelter at 600 Bridge St., which has been open for most of the week, Deeds said.
Other homes and buildings along the banks of the lake could also be at risk, Assistant City Manager Sheri Campbell-Husband said.
“The saturation, at this point, is clearly causing a problem,” Campbell-Husband said.
Farther south, runoff from Lake Granbury has flowed through Glen Rose en route to Lake Whitney and is flooding some homes along the Brazos River.
“I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Linda Smith, 71, who lives on the Brazos near Glen Rose. Her home has not flooded yet, but the river crawled to within 100 yards of her back door Friday morning.
The river is running at major flood stage in Glen Rose, and Lake Whitney has climbed 15 feet in the last week.
“We’re fighting the water, but Hood County and Johnson County got it worse than we did,” said Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers.
Johnson County officials were forced to close more than 70 roads Thursday afternoon because of flash floods.
The rain has been steady across North Texas and while there will be a chance of rain Saturday, the deluges are coming to an end, said National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fox.
“This is pretty much it,” Fox said. “We’re rounding third and coming home.”
Brazos flooding continues
While the Brazos has been running hard through the Glen Rose area, Somervell County Fire Chief Marc Crawford said emergency crews have helped some residents evacuate from homes along the Paluxy River, which merges with the Brazos just east of Glen Rose.
But the Brazos channel at Glen Rose is wide enough to handle a record flood, Crawford said.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be some flooding.
Donnie and Carla Smith, who live on the Brazos near Glen Rose, could only watch Friday as the river flowed across their property. Water was up to the handle of their home’s back door. A 9-foot gazebo and the telephone pole next to their driveway were about halfway submerged.
The Smiths have been staying in a hotel since Wednesday, when they returned home from a doctor’s appointment in Stephenville to find their house flooded.
Upstream, the Brazos River Authority continues to monitor rainfall and its effect on Possum Kingdom Lake, where two floodgates remain open.
After studying the flows into the lake, BRA officials said a third floodgate would be opened at 8 p.m. Friday.
That flow affects low-lying Horseshoe Bend in Parker County, which has been dealing with flooding all week.
The Brazos is expected to rise again over the weekend in Horseshoe Bend with a crest of 25.6 feet on Sunday, about a foot less than the crest on Thursday. That is considered a moderate flood.
Horseshoe Bend resident Bart Salter said he is cleaning up around his 13 rent houses but preparing for another flood.
“I guess we’ll go through one more flood,” Salter said. “If they open that third gate, I think it will take us back to where we were earlier this week — and that’s if we get no more rain or runoff.”
Highway washed out near Cisco
Farther west, flooding from Lake Cisco washed out a huge section of Texas 6 in Eastland County, leaving the road closed until further notice.
The highway, about 100 miles west of Fort Worth, is north of Cisco and connects to Albany. Some residents at the lake were forced to evacuate because of the high water.
Jacey Shack, owner of S2 Helicopter Services in Albany, shot video Thursday of the runoff running through the highway.
“This is a first,” said Shack, whose primary business is doing hog hunts from his chopper. “I can’t recall a time that the water has run over the Cisco dam.”
Closer to Dallas-Forth Worth, the West Fork of the Trinity River hasn’t seen the flooding that has occurred on the Brazos. But rising lake levels caused both Lake Worth and Lake Bridgeport to be closed to recreational boat traffic at 9 a.m. Friday, said David Marshall, director of engineering and operations support for the Tarrant Regional Water District.
“It’s kind of dependent on what happens today,” Marshall said. “If we get any more rain, we could have some issues. Right now, it’s gone from a friendly flood to an unfriendly flood but at this point, we’re not expecting any property damage.”
Staff writer Robert Cadwallader contributed to this report.