CENTRAL TEXAS SCHOOLS
Flooding closes schools, causes delays
Several Central Texas schools were closed or opened late on Thursday because of flooding and power outages.
Lockhart, San Marcos and Wimberley school districts canceled classes. Wimberley Superintendent Dwain York made the decision at 4 a.m. Thursday to close schools. He said water leaked in the junior high school and there was flooding in the maintenance building that houses the district’s main computers.
The Hays, Dripping Springs, Bastrop and Hutto school districts delayed start times by two hours.
The Austin district closed three elementary schools. Perez Elementary was evacuated and students were sent to Widen Elementary until parents could pick them up. Palm and Blazier elementaries were closed after Austin Energy officials said that power would not be restored immediately to those schools.
Austin district officials Thursday morning also decided to close Mendez Elementary, but reversed the decision after power was restored to the school. However, the school remained without water and district officials had to bring in water and food for students.
Several districts also saw a jump in student absences. About 15 percent of students in the Hays district were absent, compared with 4.7 percent on the same day the year prior.
Austin school officials said they would notify parents of students at Perez, Blazier and Palm elementaries by 6 a.m. Friday whether the schools would reopen.
— Melissa B. Taboada, American-Statesman
SOUTHEAST TRAVIS COUNTY
Two county roads wash away
Parts of Twin Creeks Road near Onion Creek in Manchaca and Williamson Road in Creedmoor were washed out from the deluge late Wednesday and early Thursday. Officials said they will be closed for at least three weeks.
The damage was so bad on Williamson Road that a pickup fell into a 4-foot-deep hole created when the asphalt washed away, said David Greear, the county’s traffic program manager.
Richard Moya Park, which is south of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and along Onion Creek, was flooded entirely, said Charles Bergh, Travis County’s parks director. It is hard to say how long until it can reopen and whether it could serve as planned as bicycle parking for the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix in two weeks, Bergh said.
— Farzad Mashhood, American-Statesman
Wastewater spills into river, creeks
The heavy rains late Wednesday and early Thursday caused wastewater to spill into six creeks — Onion Creek, Marble Creek, Williamson Creek, Bull Creek, Lake Creek, Brushy Creek — and into the Colorado River.
There is no estimate yet of the amount that spilled, said Jason Hill, spokesman for Austin Water Utility.
The city’s drinking water supply wasn’t affected, but officials are urging residents to avoid contact with water from those creeks and the river.
Floodwaters entered Austin’s wastewater collection system during the rains and flowed to the South Austin Regional Wastewater Plant on Falwell Lane and the Walnut Creek Wastewater Plant on FM 969, Hill said. Utility officials are working to continue to treat as much wastewater as possible, Hill said.
A wastewater plant near Onion Creek was taken offline because of flooding in that area, he said.
Officials also are assessing flooding damage to five lift stations, which carry wastewater from low to high elevations.
— Sarah Coppola, American Statesman
Barton Springs Pool closed indefinitely
Barton Springs Pool was supposed to reopen Thursday for the first time since heavy rains hit Austin in mid-October.
But the rains that pounded Austin on Wednesday night and Thursday morning derailed that plan.
The pool again became a “roaring river” of water and debris, said Victor Ovalle, a spokesman for the Parks and Recreation Department.
So the pool will remain closed, indefinitely, until the waters recede and crews can clean it, he said.
— Sarah Coppola, American-Statesman
MetroRail service disrupted
Flooding forced Capital Metro to run its commuter trains only between the Kramer Station in North Austin and the downtown station. Passengers who normally got on or off trains at the three outlying stations – Howard Lane, Lakeline and Leander – had to take buses from those stations to Kramer and board the trains there, and then reverse that procedure in the afternoon to get home.
Capital Metro officials said the trains will return to normal service Friday, although they might run slower than normal in places because of repair work.
— Ben Wear, American-Statesman