LOCAL NEWS

Residents struggle with flooding

High wind, water hits Austin area

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Officials and residents of Cedar Park and Leander struggled over the weekend and into the week to cope with the high wind and flood water that hit the Austin area as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

Dozens of streets were closed in the two cities because of high water. In Cedar Park, Brushy Creek Lake Park and Brushy Creek Sports Park were closed due to high water, but were located in floodplains and were intended to flood. In Williamson County, Brushy Creek Trail was also closed.

In addition to helping area residents in both communities — some of whom voluntarily evacuated from their homes because of rising waters — the Cedar Park Police Department and the Leander Fire Department sent teams of rescuers to help those persons in need in the low lying Houston area which was being devastated by high water.

Because of the deluge of rain caused by Harvey, south of Austin, the Colorado River crested at 53 feet — a 104 year record.  

The weekend flooding was especially ironic for a group of residents in Cedar Park who said they have been trying to get the Cedar Park City Council to deal with flooding and drainage issues for several years.

Some of those citizens showed up at the Cedar Park City Council meeting Thursday night to ask for help and warn the council again that there are at least 17 areas of Cedar Park that struggle with drainage problems during times of significant rainfall.

"I have been to 29 city council meetings to talk about the problems of drainage," said Rhonda Hudgeon who lives on East Riveria. "Your inaction continues to put the citizens of Cedar Park in harm’s way.

Just two days later, Hudgeons and her husband, Tim, said they left their home to stay with relatives after their street flooded.

"They say they want to fix it," said Tim Hudgeons. "But very little has been done. The city staff has put in a lot of time studying the drainage issue, they know what must be done, but it isn't happening because of politics."  

Cedar Park spokeswoman Jennie Huerta said there are homes in the innundation easement of the upper Brushy Creek water control and improvement district dam, and is designed to flood. 

"There are a couple of homes that were built in the existing easement many years ago before this area was annexed to the city of Cedar Park," she said. "The dam system predates the neighborhood and were built in the innundation easement before Riviera Springs was annexed to the city."

Hudgeons said while a few members of the council appear to want to deal with the issue, others do not.

"They just keep pushing the problem down the road," Tim Hudgeons said.

Among the speakers concerned about drainage problems at the council meeting Thursday was Kathy Cook, who lives about 200 yards north of Fire Station No. 1 in Cedar Park. Cook said she has been complaining about the drainage problems in her neighborhood since 2010, and has repeatedly asked the council for help.

"I have had lots of sleepless nights watching the rising water," Cook said. "I have asked the city for help, but they didn't want to set a precedent."

At a cost of $56,000, Cook said she has had to hire help to solve her flooding problems.

"What I have done so far has vastly improved it," Cook said.  She said the costly work she has paid for out of pocket minimized the damage to her home in the weekend flooding.  "Had I not done my own work, I truly would have been battling flood water again."

Cedar Park City Council member Anne Duffy said the drainage problem is “definitely” a priority.

“It will be a priority moving forward,” she said. “We were not able to get a solution on the ballot this November, but the issue is not dormant for us."

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