Could Have Been Worse:
of the water fell in the upper river basins of rivers like the
Guadalupe and Medina (as opposed to the lower basin deluge of
'98). This brought Canyon Dam into its most important role since
it was built. At the flood peak, the dam held back 70, 000 cfs
- though 70,000 more flooded over the spillway.
Perhaps the most interesting story to
watch coming out this storm is the process of remapping the flood
plain maps along the heavily populated lower Guadalupe River.
For example, the 1986 map showing streamflow designation for a
100-year flood on the Guadalupe River is radically changing from
26,000 cfs to 88,000 cfs. This is a story to watch closely with
interesting changes also taking place in the insurance landscape.
Lastly, the number of deaths from this storm was 12, thankfully
much lower than the 98 storm which killed 32.. Much is this has
to do with the gradual build of the storm and the subsequent warnings
that were issued. Another factors in the reduction of deaths may
also be attributed to the fact that Texas has had a number of
deadly storms recently so public attention may be somewhat raised.
As a side-note: 56-year old San Antonio man has refused to pay
a $400 fee after he drove around a barricade and had to be rescued
from floodwaters. The man, who could not swim, was rescued with
a mere six-inch air space remaining inside his car. The man suffered
from hypothermia and spent the night at a local hospital.
A 1992 ordinance enables the City of San Antonio to issue a $400
fine to anyone who has to be rescued at low water crossings that
are clearly marked.
On June 30, 2002, a low-pressure system migrating westward from
Florida combined with a flow of deep tropical moisture from the
Gulf of Mexico and moved over southern Texas. The system hit a
wall of high pressure and stalled over the central and south-central
parts of the State. For 8 days, the storm system continued to
draw moisture from the Gulf, which triggered several massive storms
throughout much of the area. As much as 35 inches of rainfall
fell during the event, with heaviest depths occurring in the Texas
Hill Country northwest of San Antonio. Flooding affected about
80 counties in Texas.
Heavy rain also fell in parts of west Texas, including Abilene,
where 12-14 inches of rain in the pre-dawn hours of July 6 caused
flooding that required numerous evacuations. Heavy rains also
caused Lake Brownwood to overflow, causing evacuations and flooding
in parts of Brownwood.
The floods caused twelve deaths and damage to about 48,000 homes.
Nearly 250 flood rescue calls were reported, more than 130 roads
were closed, and thousands of homes and businesses lost electrical
power and telephone service. Twenty-four counties have been identified
by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as Federal Declared
Disaster areas--14 counties are eligible for individual assistance
and 10 counties for individual and public assistance. Emergency
management representatives have not yet assessed the total cost
The storms produced large volumes of runoff and as many as four
flood peaks at each of many streamflow-gaging stations in the
Brazos, Colorado, and Guadalupe River Basins. Record flood stages
occurred at sites on the Medina River, San Antonio River, Sabinal
River, and Nueces River. For the first time since it filled in
1968, Canyon Lake (northeast of San Antonio) poured over its spillway,
adding to the flooding in the Guadalupe River. Emergency managers
also were concerned about the 90-year-old dam at Medina Lake (west
of San Antonio). Medina Lake topped its spillway and rose to within
18 inches of the top of the dam. Areas downstream from the dam
were evacuated as a precaution to the fear of dam failure.