by BRAD ROLLINS
An estimated 400 homes in Hays County, most of them in the Wimberley and San Marcos areas, were destroyed by a raging Blanco River late Saturday and early Sunday, emergency management officials say.
At a press conference this morning, officials said no fewer than eight helicopters, most of them dispatched by the Texas National Guard, are plucking people from the rooftops of their flooded homes. Overnight, city and county crews used dump trucks, backhoes and fire engines to rescue people from the devastation.
“We knew the water was coming down but never in our wildest imaging did we think about the wall of water that would come down so quickly and do [so much] destruction,” County Judge Bert Cobb said.
Starting at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, residents who live in the Blanco River basin were notified by the county’s reverse-911 system about rising waters, but the warnings came too late for many, especially in the Wimberley area where the floodwaters reached first, said Hays County emergency management coordinator Kharley Smith.
The worst damage is along the Blanco River in and above Wimberley, but large parts of northern and eastern San Marcos were deluged as well. An estimated 1,000 people were in shelters in Wimberley and San Marcos as of this morning, officials said.
With more rain expected during the next two days, officials urged residents who have made it to safe places to remain there. A curfew has been imposed between 9 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday in Wimberley, San Marcos and all of unincorporated Hays County south of FM 150.
The Blanco River flood is the worst in the region’s history, San Marcos emergency management coordinator Ken Bell said.
At its fastest, the river was flowing at 223,000 cubic feet per second, more than double streamflows in the 1929 floods, Bell said.
COVER: Drivers on Old Stagecoach Road pass a damaged fence at Five Mile Dam park in northern San Marcos. HAYS FREE PRESS PHOTO
CORRECTION 5:08 p.m. SUNDAY, MAY 24: The story reported inaccurately that streamflow of 323,000 cubic feet per second was recorded in San Marcos. The recorded peak reading was 223,000 cubic feet before the gauge washed downstream.Email | Print