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County sizing up flood damage

Profile image for By Bj Lewis
By Bj Lewis

After a hectic day of dealing with flooding from almost a foot of rainfall in parts of Denton County on Thursday, conditions were rapidly returning to normal Friday, said Jody Gonzalez, the county’s emergency management coordinator.

“It was truly a flash flood,” Gonzalez said. “Fast as it came through was as fast as it went away.”

Thursday’s storm brought a multitude of problems, Gonzalez said, but a review of lake and river levels Friday morning showed some positive results.

“Lewisville [Lake] is up 13 inches and Ray Roberts [Lake] is up 24 inches and rising,” Gonzalez said after his review.

While costs associated with Thursday’s storm have yet to be calculated, Gonzalez said he expects to have a better idea of the impact once he meets with the county road and bridge department.

“Right now, Road and Bridge is still doing their own assessment on damages, but it shouldn’t be too bad,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t near as bad as it could’ve been.”

An additional 35 people were on call as part of the swift-water rescue team task force, officials said.

The task force consisted of fire department personnel from Lewisville, Little Elm, The Colony, Carrollton and Denton who were broken up into two teams — one stationed at Krum Fire Department and one at Fire Station No. 7 in Denton.

The exact number of accidents and stalled vehicles resulting from the flash flooding in the northern part of the region would be hard to determine, Gonzalez said, but at least 15 stalled vehicles were reported.

“A lot weren’t even documented,” he said. “A trooper would just pull over and help someone on the side of the road. We all worked together to better assist.”

County officials said the collaborative efforts worked out very smoothly.

“We had a briefing and all emergency personnel seemed to be pretty satisfied with the way things turned out,” Gonzalez said. “Having a task force up and operational early was helpful.”

Sandi Brackeen, spokeswoman with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, said there were still road closures in the county Friday afternoon. The Sheriff’s Office did not have to call in any additional staff, Brackeen said, but three deputies on the night shift worked an extra hour or so.

According to city officials, Sanger saw very little damage despite receiving an estimated 11.44 inches of rain from Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

Sanger public works director Neal Welch said flooding caused a small amount of road damage, and repairs were being made Friday. The city’s water system and parks also needed only minor cleanup, he said.

County Commissioner Hugh Coleman spent Friday driving some of the 370 miles of county-maintained roads in Precinct 1 to assess damage.

“We go out and check the ones with low-water crossings and the rest are self-reported by the community,” he said. “We have to see what the flooding did — any base failures, culvert washouts, adding rock to gravel roads, any potholes formed, any erosion that took place.”

Coleman said workers will spend a considerable amount of time surveying the situation to see if any additional repairs need to be added to work already planned through the summer and early fall.

Coleman noted that at least one road was still closed because of high water, but few other problems remained. He did say construction work on Chisum Road would be delayed until Wednesday when everything should be dried out.

Precinct 4 still had two roads closed Friday, East Jackson and C. Wolfe roads, Commissioner Andy Eads said. He said other closures, including Old Alton Road near the bridge, occurred as rising water traveled to the south.

“Several of the road closures we have consistently get closed due to high flood waters,” he said. “We did have some new bridges in those locations and new construction, [and] the new infrastructure held up well.”

Kimberly Sims, spokeswoman for 35Express, said the weather had no impact on Interstate 35E expansion work, nor did it impact the number of inclement weather days planned. She said there is no threat to completing the project by the deadline set in 2017.

“That was definitely not a normal day by any means,” said Matt Bishop, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

Bishop said things should be pretty uneventful in the immediate future.

“We’re looking at lows in the the mid-70s and highs in the mid-90s — just dry and warming temperatures,” he said.

Staff writers Megan Gray-Hatfield and Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe contributed to this report.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.