New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 22, 1991, New Braunfels, Texas
Vol. 140, No. 23
Constant rains flood county
This camper at the New Braunfels RV Park, under the Interstate 35 bridge in New Braunfels, was found in flooding waters from the Guadalupe River Friday evening. (Photo by Robert Stewart)
Remembering the flood of '72
Umbrellas and rain gear were the necessities when traveling out of doors this week. (Photo by Bill Ervin)
Road construction crews were called to Koehler Street Saturday to temporarily repair a washed out bridge (Photo by Bill Ervin)
This car was swept into a creek bed off of River Road
By LARRY ROWE Staff Writer
As threatening rains and flood 'warnings reached their climax Friday night, many of New Braunfels’ citizens were forced to recall a similar night 20 years ago, when flood waters took the lives of more than 15 citizens.
“It was a scary evening,” Fire Marshal Elroy Friesenhahn said Saturday.
“The rains were similar to what they were last night, because it had been raining and drizzling for days before, and then it started raining real hard. It was hard to describe — yesterday, I had the feeling that the same type of situation was taking place.”
Although new flood control dams and better emergency training have made New Braunfels a much safer city during such weather conditions, Friesenhahn said the storm brought up memories of the night in May 1972, when he and fellow firefighters grounded at station #4 listened to dispatch calls answered by the other stations.
One firefighter was washed into the flood waters on his way to work, Friesenhahn said. “Later on the following day, we found his body underneath one of the bridges."
On that day, he viewed the damage while assisting police in securing flood'Zone areas.
“Houses were destroyed or washed off of their foundations. All the houses down in the (Landa) Estates were just covered with mud and debris if they weren’t destroyed.... It was just unbelievable all the destruction that water can do.” Council Member Rudy Seidel lived on Rio Drive near Interstate 35. a neighborhood that suffered total devastation from the flood waters of the Guadalupe River.
Seidel said his family managed to escape before the situation became life-threatening because they mistakenly thought his wife was having a heart attack and tried loProblem areas
*ity and county road crews have been busy barricading major roadways in and around New Braunfels. Some of those areas included:
Post Road Koehler Street Landa Street U.S. 81 Interstate 35 Farm-to-Market 725
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After they left, several neighbors were killed by the flood when their houses were swept from the foundations and smashed together like dominoes.
“The next morning, we went down to where our house used to be,” Seidel said. “It was very hard to find where it even was because all these houses were gone, utilities poles were gone. a lot of the trees were gone. There was debris everywhere.
“When I saw devastation on TV, I always thought, gosh. I can imagine how those people feel, but you can’t you can’t imagine until it’s happened to you.”
Don Jackson, a member of the Elks Lodge who u JI ped rescue flood victims on that night, recalled the sight of drowning cows stuck in fences as he and others maneuvered a boat through a residential area near the Dry Comal Creek.
He said they rescued one elderly couple from a home at the end of Hickory Avenue who were reluctant to leave their belongings “W'hen we got there, they had two or three feet of water in the house, and we had to go pick them up and put them in the boat,” Jackson said.Emergency officials mobilizing to ward off dangers from flooding
Serving NEW BRAUNFELS and COMAL COUNTY I Home of Los Thom
3 Sections, 46 Pages
By ROBERT STEWART StWriter
Rising floodwaters in New Braunfels and surrounding areas caused by more than 13 inches of rain since Tuesday had local emergency agencies mobilizing to deal with impassable roads and stranded motorists.
“We had no major difficulties,” said Elroy Friesenhahn, New Braunfels fire marshal. “There were five incidents where we had to get people out of their cars where streets had flooded and one incident where lightening struck a transformer at U.S 81 and Walnut Avenue. We did call in the off-duty personnel who live in the city to come to the central station and be on standby. Once we got that all accomplished, the rain started to diminish. It was a good exercise for us.”
The Emergency Operations Center at the New Braunfels Police Department was quickly put into action to coordinate activities. Extra personnel were activated by the New Braunfels Police Department, Fire Department and Street Department to respond to the high-water emergency.
“We kept over the day shift and we worked double-shift until about 11 p.m.,” said Ll. Felix Roque. “We were Jiusy but we managed pretty good. We were able to keep anybody from getting hurt — that was our primary goal.”
Roque added that police worked closely with the Street Department to barricade impassable areas.
“I just feel real comfortable that if the situation ever does get worse that we’ll be ready to go,” Syring said. “I’m just real ecstatic with the way the operations have gone so far.”
New Braunfels Fire Chief Phil Baker said that the city’s volunteer firefighters and all the off-duty professional firefighters were called in al 7:30 p.m.
“Basically we were rescuing people in low-watcr crossings,” Baker said.
For more coverage see Page 2A
“We had a couple of regular ambulance calls in the middle of that.”
Some locations were hard to reach by ambulance because of high water. Baker said.
“We had a couple of places where we had lo respond from the other side with a different EMS unit,” Baker said, adding that the firetrucks generally don’t have any trouble getting around.
“We established crews and set-up some response teams with our swift-water rescue people on the teams,” Baker said. “They didn’t actually have to go out and do anything (in the water). They were basically just helping stranded motorists whose cars stalled out.”
“We’ve got the type of personnel who say ’let’s go do something (to help)’,” Friesenhahn said.
Friesenhahn said that while officials did not evacuate anybody from their homes, nine people who felt uncomfortable with the rising water did go to the National Guard Armory where the Red Cross had established an evacuation center.
“We had the shelter started at 8 p.m. and we were there until 11:15 p.m.,” said Darren Bnnkkoeter, chairman of Disaster Services for the Red Cross in New Braunfels. “There were some people evacuated but they chose to stay the night with friends and family.”
The armory was chosen for the shelter Friday night because access to downtown locations was uncertain because of flooding, Bnnkkoeter said.
“We’ve had such heavy rains in the local area we have the potential for some major problems if the rains just happen to hit wrong,” said John Spccht, general manager of Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (OBRA), the agency that determines the water release from Canyon Lake Dam “We
will continue to monitor and operate the systems to keep everything moving through as rapidly as we can without having any unnecessary impacts on local areas.”
Specht said the GBRA cannot simply release all water to go downstream and can’t cut off all flow from the Canyon Lake Dam to reduce the amount of water in New Braunfels.
“Everything is open and being coordinated to pass the water as efficiently as we can,” Specht said. “There are no flood control structures downstream and so all we can do is try to pass the waters as they occur. The (Canyon Dam) release presently is just a little over 200 cubic feet per second and that is needed to maintain the upper portion of the river.”
The GBRA is an organization that develops water resources, operates facilities to manage river flow and conserves water resources The GBRA works in conjunction with the Corps of Engineers, th. National Weather Service and governmental agencies. Specht said.
“Sometimes the local tributaries are coming in so heavy and causing some localized flooding there’s really nothing that can be done about that,” Specht said. “Once the flow exceeds the normal capability of the river to carry it, it’s going to begin to go over banks iii places With a little bit of luck maybe this thing won’t catch us with another major storm cell.”
The Canyon Lake reservoir and the small flood-retarding structures that have been constructed on tributaries like the Dry Comal Creek. Blieders Creek and York Creek are designed to prevent major flooding further downstream.
“Certainly they’re helpful and there is no danger right al this moment of a major flood occurring,” Specht said. “Conversely, if it rains a great deal more, very fait, then you could have some very serious problems,” he vaid. “It’s a dangerous situation, bul at this point everything is in pretty good shape. We just have such unusual circumstance occurring here.”
City barricading local roadwaysGood Day
There continues lo be a high chance of rain today. The clearing should begin on Monday. For more weather information see Page 2A.
By LARRY ROWE Blaff Writer
City road crews put up every road barricade they could find Friday night after storm clouds unleashed another four arui a half inches of rain over New Braunfels, causing road closings and damage
The thunderstorm oil this fourth •veiling of rain caused road cave-ins on Santa Clara Avenue, Walnut Avenue, and Landa Street after saturated soil beneath the pavement collapsed, City Engineer Bill Dobrowolskt said.
These have been temporarily repaired with base material, but “will not be what you’d consider a real good passable road” because they may soften with more rain, he said.
New Braunfels received 4.81 inches of rain in a 24-hour period ending at 7 a m Saturday, and the total amount since Tuesday night was 13.45 inches.
“We won’t be able lo assess a lot of road damage for several da> s after it stops raining, because it doesn’t have a traffic load on it lo make it deteriorate,’’ Dobrowolskt addedCarriers fighting inclement weather
Michael Thomas prepares to take out the Herald (Photo by BW Ervin)
As the rains continued to fall the past few days, canters that deliver (he Herald Zcmmg have been all wet
Since Tuesday, sonic ol the carriers have not been able lo pass through rising water to deliver sonic of the papers, aud Circulation Manage! Carol Ann Avery.
”1 imagine maybe 50 to IOO households have gone without a paper during the wet week, she stud.
Bul while some people have not received their papers. Avery aaa! the earners arc keeping track ol that tact, she said.
"As quickly as they can they will get ui there with all of the issues," she said.
For more information about deliveries call 625-9144,