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Disaster declared in Central Texas counties as flooding prompts evacuations

Floodgates opened as Lake Travis rises

The LCRA opens several area floodgates due to flooding and heavy rain
Philip Arno Photography /Shutterstock

This article was originally published on Tuesday, October 16, and has been updated.

Update Friday, October 19: As heavy showers tapered off and Lake Travis rose to at least 702 feet above mean sea level (and is still rising), the LCRA spent the past two days in a ballet of floodgate openings and announcement of same. The openings caused roads adjacent to the Colorado River to flood intermittently and prompted some cut-up to put a life jacket on the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue on the south side of the lake. The decision to open floodgates this weekend will depend on the weather, according to the agency.

Some of the hardest-hit communities have opened shelters for evacuees, while AirBnB announced Friday that it has activated its Open Homes Program, through which it offer its services to evacuees in several counties by matching them with hosts who have agreed to provide them shelter free of charge.

Austin Pets Alive! announced that it needs emergency fosters, due to the opening of floodgates and the facility’s proximity to the lake.

Update Tuesday, October 16: Heavy and nearly constant downpours over the past few days have resulted in severe flooding in Central Texas, prompting evacuations and flood-control action in several parts of the area.

The Llano River, northwest of Austin, rose to 30 feet above flood level KUT-FM reported Tuesday, and Gillespie and portions of Burnet counties remain under a flash flood warning until 3:30 p.m. Evacuations have been ordered for parts of Marble Falls, and shelters have opened shelters for evacuees.

Austin-area Buchanan, LBJ, Inks, and Travis lakes have been closed, and the Lower Colorado River Authority has begun to open floodgates along the Colorado River. Wirtz and Starcke dams are open, and the agency and says it plans to open gates at Tom Miller and Mansfield dams starting at noon.

Barton Springs and the Barton Creek Greenbelt are also closed. Several Hill Country schools are closed, and residents around the Highland Lakes have been told to “take measures to protect people and property.”

Tuesday, October 16: After days of area-wide rain that totaled 13 inches in some places and caused major flooding, school evacuations, and road closures, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared 18 Central Texas counties disaster areas, according to a Tuesday Statesman report. In addition to the Llano River, which nearly set a record flood level and swept away a bridge on FM 2900, continued rise in water in several other rivers prompted evacuations in several places along them, including in Marble Falls and along the Colorado River. Lakes Buchanan, LBJ, Inks, Marble Falls, and Travis are also closed until further notice.

In Austin, there is a ban on recreational activity in all waterways within the city limits until at least noon on Thursday.

Barton Springs Pool, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady BIrd Lake are also closed.

According to the Statesman, more rain is expected through the end of the week.

ATXFloods keeps an up-to-date map of road and low-water-crossing closures in the area on its website. Local NBC affiliate KXAN keeps a list and a map of area street closures and potentially dangerous crossings as well.

Stevie Ray Vaughan statue ready for the worst as Lake Travis rises [KVUE]

Travis County seeks disaster aid as Lake Travis swells [AAS]

Flash flood warning issued for Travis, Burnet counties until 5 a.m. [AAS]

Marble Falls Orders Evacuations As Llano River Reaches ‘Historic’ Flooding [KUT]

Disaster declaration issued for Central Texas following historic flooding [AAS]