Kyle, Buda weather impact from Harvey

Downed trees and flooded streets was 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.

Two people sprint across the main lanes in front of the H-E-B Kyle Saturday as they try to avoid getting soaked by torrential downpours from Hurricane Harvey. (photo by Moses Leos III)

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 Stagecoach Park where two heritage oaks were blown over. Marino said the city is looking into the possibility of salvaging the trees, but isn’t sure if it can be done.

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 about downed trees and power lines. No swift water rescues were made during the weekend.

While there was flooding over FM 2770 near Bluff Street, Marino said water did not affect the Onion Creek Village apartments or the Emergency Service District No. 8 station.

Even so, Buda city officials preemptively notified residents living at Onion Creek Village of the danger. Family members picked up many of the residents, who are senior citizens, before the storms blew in.

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.

Flooding in Kyle didn’t get bad enough to keep residents locked inside. (photo by Moses leos III)

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 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.

No major road problems were reported in Kyle due to the storm. The city’s drainage system also experienced few issues.

“When (roads) were closed, they were closed the minute water ran over the road,” Hilsenbeck said.

Preparation prior to the storm was one of the lessons learned during the Memorial Day and Halloween 2015 flood events, Hilsenbeck said. The slow pace that Hurricane Harvey traveled also helped.

However, city officials addressed problems of people driving around barricades to low water crossings. No one was hurt after a car stalled in high water in Kyle over the weekend. No swift water rescues were conducted.

“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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