Tag Archives: Amarillo flooding

Drainage improvements needed? Maybe?

We were on the road when the sky opened up over Amarillo, Texas, not long ago. It rained torrents. Hail fell across large sections of the city. The power went out in some neighborhoods.

I heard about all this via social media while we were plowing through our own rainstorms back east.

Moreover, I also heard some grumbling about the city’s chronic trouble spots that present themselves whenever the heavens pour copious amounts of water on the city.

Some of the griping concerned the city’s efforts to remake its downtown district while — allegedly! — ignoring the infrastructure associated with flood control.

Hmmm. I don’t believe the city has ignored these problems.

The new City Council, though, has been handed an issue it needs to ponder deeply and carefully. Does it have the money it needs to improve storm water removal? If it doesn’t have the money on hand, is there sufficient support among city residents to support a bond issue to pony up the money required to do the job?

All five of the council members campaigned in one form or another on a platform calling for reasonable spending of taxpayer money. They’re all serious folks with, I also believe, seriously noble intent to do right for the city electorate that voted them into office.

Drainage concerns likely have floated to the top of their issues on which they should deliver.

Now … about all that rain

Ama street flooding

In my 20-plus years living on the High Plains of Texas, weather-related conversations usually have fallen into several discussion topics.

They go something like this:

* Boy, how about that wind? You’d better hold on to your hat today.

* Hey, is it hot enough for ya? When’s it going to cool off around here?

* I had to dig my car out of the snow this morning on the way to work. When will it ever stop snowing? When will it warm up around here?

Rarely have I had to talk about rain. Copious amounts of it, to boot. Then again, my wife and I are still fairly new to the area. Long-timers around here have talked about the flooding of the late 1970s. Or they’ll mention the storm-drain lakes built to catch all the water.

The talk all over town — indeed, all across Texas — has been about the rain.

We’ve gone a long time around here without rain being atop our minds’ awareness.

As I scan my assorted news sources this morning, I see that as wet as we’ve been in Amarillo and the Panhandle the past few days, we’re still relatively desert-like compared to places like San Marcos and Wimberley in Central Texas. The Riverwalk in San Antonio has spilled over. Our old haunts in the Golden Triangle, as well as in Houston, well … they’ve been wetter than usual — and that’s really saying something for that part of the state. Dallas-Fort Worth also is soggy beyond belief

My wife and I are hoping to take our fifth wheel out over Father’s Day weekend. Our plan is — or at least was — to go to Eisenhower State Park in Denison, on the Oklahoma border. We called to make our reservation. “Sorry sir,” the young lady said. “We aren’t taking reservations right now. Too much water. The lake is overflowing. Roads are closed. Try again closer to the date when you want to come here … and we’ll see.”

Hey, I know you can’t control the Almighty — which is why we call him “Almighty.”

I’m going to hope for the best. The rain is surely welcome. The playas are full. The rivers are rushing. Lake Meredith, just north of us in Hutchinson County, is going to get a lot of in-flow from its watershed for the next several days as the water continues to drain from Amarillo and other locales.

Perhaps, though, I’ll just ask that it more or less evens out. In fact, I think I might say a little prayer to that effect.

Why not? Someone — such as the Almighty himself — already has answered our prayers for rain.

Might it be time to examine flood control?

flooded street

Is it just me, or are others out there wondering about the quality of our storm-drain system in Amarillo?

My wife and I have lived here now for slightly more than 20 years. My memory at times is a bit foggy, but I’m pretty sure this is the worst rain event we’ve seen since we moved here from the Gulf Coast — where we used to get a lot of rain in a very short period of time.

The city has its hands full this Memorial Day weekend. We just came back from a grocery run and discovered water had flooded from McDonald Lake, across Coulter. Motor vehicles were stalled as motorists tried to slosh their way through the muddy water.

Us? We were OK, as we drove our big ol’ 3/4-ton truck through it without any difficulty.

In our two-decades plus here, this is the first time we’ve seen that much water across Coulter.

The other traditional trouble spots I’m quite certain are disasters this morning.

Well, once City Hall gets through this situation, I’m hoping the city’s senior administrative staff sits down and has a serious after-action meeting to discuss ways to improve matters for the next big rain event.

It also might be good for City Manager Jarrett Atkinson and Mayor Paul Harpole to conduct a press conference to explain — in detail — what happened out there and whether the city has any plans afoot to try to correct it. You know, things like drainage construction or perhaps fine-tuning its emergency response — if it’s needed — to help folks cope with what this most unusual weather event.

It’s been a long time coming. Most of us are quite grateful for the moisture (a term that seems quaint, given the volume of water that’s fallen from the sky).

Residents of a modern American city, though, shouldn’t have to worry about flooding every time it pours.

Or is this what we can expect — all the time?