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Tuesday, June 24, 1997
Central Texas hit by flood waters
By CHIP BROWN Associated Press Writer
LAKEWAY, Texas (AP) - A tearful Tammy Keller helped move a
television set, her daughter's pink bicycle and racks of clothes
out of her two-story home near Lake Travis and into a rented trailer
Nearly everything was out of her house except a collection
of porcelain figurines high on a shelf on the second floor.
That part of the house was expected to be spared as water continued
rising from driving weekend rains. The downpour turned peaceful
creeks into white-water rapids, killed three people in Bandera
County and left another missing in Brown County in Central Texas.
"Thank God for family and friends," Ms. Keller said
through tears. "Everyone in the world has called to help
The Kellers, who were told water likely would fill the first
floor of their home and six inches of the second floor, were among
hundreds of families who evacuated homes along swollen river and
lake beds from Hondo, west of San Antonio, to Lakeway, just west
Austin's Lake Travis was expected to be the hardest hit because
it is the primary downstream repository for the Colorado River
Although skies were sunny much of the day Monday, scattered
showers were in the forecast for the next several days.
The Lower Colorado River Authority, which provides water and
electric service to about 1 million residents in 58 counties,
projected that water levels in Lake Travis would rise from a normal
of 685 feet above sea level to 710 feet by Tuesday morning as
upstream rainwater pours in.
That would match a record level following Christmas Day flooding
in 1991 that damaged approximately 300 homes on the Lake Travis
LCRA officials estimate that roughly 400 homes on Lake Travis
will be damaged by the most recent flooding, as well as 80 homes
near Marble Falls and 80 more near Llano. Both towns are along
the swollen Colorado River. Water levels in the Llano River were
the highest since 1952.
The floods left little question that last year's drought, which
cost the state $5 billion, had been broken.
Robert Cullick, an LCRA spokesman, said, "If you look
back in history, droughts are always broken by floods. Texas just
doesn't know how to be moderate.
"We got enough water in Lake Travis in the last 24-hour
period for about 60,000 families for a year," Cullick said.
"I would say the drought is definitely broken."
The identities of the three killed in Bandera County and the
man still missing in Brown County weren't being released by local
authorities Monday afternoon.
A woman was killed after she and her husband were washed off
State Highway 16 early Sunday. Her husband was rescued after being
found clinging to a tree branch in flood waters, authorities said.
A man was also killed after his vehicle was swept away at a
low-water crossing, said Jo Schweikhard-Moss of the Division of
Another person was killed in a traffic accident blamed on wet
streets in Bandera County, Ms. Schweikhard-Moss said.
Emergency shelters were set up in six counties. Gov. George
W. Bush said eight Blackhawk helicopters operated by members of
the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard
were used to save some 100 citizens stranded by rising waters.
"It's amazing how extreme the weather patterns have been,"
Bush said. "A year ago, we were worried about (supplying)
drinking water for a lot of citizens. Now we're worried about
The Kellers, who operate a marina on their property, were praying
for rain last year when they had to move their boat landings 400
yards into the lake bed.
"We wished for rain last year and got it all this year,"
said Keller Bradfield, 29, a relative helping the family evacuate.
"There's nothing you can do. It's part of living on a lake."
Several homes were completely submerged in a flood plain along
Lake Travis known as Graveyard Point.
Linda Wheeler used a small raft to reach her home, which stands
on stilts about 15 feet above the ground, in that area.
"You move everything from the first floor to the second
floor and pray - a lot," Ms. Wheeler said. Send
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