Texas Governor declares a state of disaster in 18 counties in central and south Texas as severe flooding hits the state
As the threat of flooding on the Brazos River continued Wednesday night, officials said nearby residents in Parker County should be prepared to evacuate if needed.
Parker County public information officer Joel Kertok said the Brazos River near Horseshoe Bend had risen from its normal 3-foot height to 17-feet-deep due to rainfall as of Wednesday. He said 21 feet is the river’s limit.
“We told people that they need to be prepared, and if you live right along the river, you need to be vigilant. You want to leave before it floods,” he said. “Be prepared and ready to go.”
Areas in Parker County that lie along the river, such as Horseshoe Bend, Lazy Bend and Soda Springs, were particularly in danger of flooding.
Whether the river floods depends not just on rainfall in the area, but also the water levels about 50 miles northwest at Possum Kingdom Lake.
The heavy rainfall across North Texas may force the Brazos River Authority to release water from the lake into the Brazos through a third floodgate.
On Oct. 8, the river authority opened the first floodgate at Morris Sheppard Dam, then opened the second gate on Oct. 14.
If the third floodgate is opened, Parker County could see a high risk of flooding. In June 2016, heavy rainfall and the opening of the third floodgate created major flooding in Horseshoe Bend.
Judi Pierce, the spokeswoman for the river authority, said it appeared the Brazos River had receded in the past 24 hours near Horseshoe Bend. Whether the third gate would be opened, she said, depends on the amount of rain Wednesday night.
Pierce said it would take about 1 to 3 inches of water falling across the entire Brazos River watershed for them to consider opening the gate.
Daniel Huckaby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said only light rain was expected overnight Wednesday and into Thursday in the Fort Worth area. There is a chance for heavier rain Friday, with up to an inch potentially falling in some areas.
Kertok said that while there is not a current order to evacuate, people in and near Horseshoe Bend should have a plan and be prepared to move to higher ground quickly.
“If they do open the gate, it takes awhile to get down to Horseshoe Bend. It would take 24 to 36 hours normally, but right now you have to include all the rain runoff,” he said. “If they open the third gate, there will be flooding problems.”
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said he does not think the area will have to evacuate, but it depends on how much rain falls.
“You don’t want to let your guard down,” he said. “If they have to open any more floodgates, then it would be a touch-and-go situation.”
He added if the area did have to be evacuated, residents would have adequate time to leave. The problem, he said, is that some people may not want to leave.
“In the past, we’ve had to go in by boat and take them out when they stay too long down here,” he said. “Hopefully everybody is watching what’s going on and has the common sense to get out.”