Hurricane Harvey hits Hays County: Dripping Springs, Wimberley unaffected by weather event

by Moses Leos III

Downed trees and flooded streets were the extent of the impact seen around parts of Buda and Kyle as Hays County seemingly escaped the brunt of Hurricane Harvey’s wrath.

The storm, which landed ashore in Rockport as a Category 4 hurricane, stalled over the Cuero area Saturday, which led to torrential downpours in Central Texas.

One Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) rain gauge in Buda at Onion Creek measured close to a foot of rain from Friday through Sunday. Kerry Urbanowicz, Kyle Parks and Recreation director, said city rain gauges collected close to 11 inches of rain during the same time period.

In Dripping Springs, Harvey’s impact was relatively minor, said Kay Allen, city of Dripping Springs Emergency Planning Coordinator.

Her rain gauge in the Harmon Hill subdivision collected roughly 4.5 inches of rain over the two-day period. LCRA rain gauges in that area took in roughly five inches of rain.

To prepare for the storm, Allen said Dripping Springs organized its plan with the North Hays County Fire Rescue (NHCFR) in the event of an emergency.

That plan featured “trigger points” that would engage a local Emergency Operation Center (EOC), if needed. The primary trigger point was conducting three swift water rescues in a short period of time.

Allen said the city did not activate its EOC, but they “were prepared to do that.”

She said NHCFR had “all hands on deck,” with career firefighters on call during the storm.

Dripping Springs ultimately dodged a bullet, with only Creek Road at U.S. 290 and Trautwein at Barton Creek closed due to flooding.

“I wish no one had been impacted,” Allen said. “But my first obligation is to my community. That Dripping Springs and Hays County were not badly impacted is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.”

Felled trees and minor low water crossing flooding was the extent of damage in the Buda and Kyle areas.

David Marino, Buda public information officer, said damage from high winds was the extent of issues seen in the city. According to reports, wind gusts measured at times above 50 miles per hour.

One of the hardest hit areas was Buda’s Stagecoach Park where two heritage oaks were blown over. Marino said the city is looking the possibility of salvaging the trees, but isn’t sure if it can be done at this time.

Another area that experienced damage was at the Trails of Buda Ranch apartments, where a covered awning collapsed.

Roughly 35 calls were made to Buda Police during the storm, with the majority referring to downed trees and power lines. No swift water rescues were made during the weekend.

Marino said Buda’s plan prior to the storm was sending out flyers in flood prone areas. In addition, the city activated its local emergency operations center (EOC) at city hall to monitor the situation.

Buda also worked collaboratively with Emergency Service District No. 8 and County Commissioner Mark Jones to plan for the event. Marino said preparation talks began midweek and included the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority.

Infrastructure, including roads and drainage, was not damaged, and neither was the city’s new municipal building site on Main Street.

“We dodged a bullet,” Marino said. “Everyone was expecting a lot of rain. We did get a lot, but not what we’ve seen in the past.”

Also breathing a sigh of relief were Kyle city officials, who only experienced tree damage and a handful of flooded streets during the storm.

Kim Hiilsenbeck, Kyle communications specialist, said the city prepared itself by placing barricades near low water crossings. Other preparation items included clearing debris from drainage channels, along with lowering Lake Kyle by four feet to accommodate for runoff.

Hilsenbeck said the city’s public works and police department constantly checked culverts, ditches and streams for potential issues. The city also engaged its EOC, which worked with emergency and county officials to monitor the storm situation.

“We did so many things in advance of the storm to keep everyone safe in what could have been a way worse situation,” Hilsenbeck said. “We had time in advance to make sure we had everything ready to go.”

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