Shoal Creek Flooding-Staying Aware and Staying Safe

May 1, 2018  | By Shoal Creek Conservancy

Austin, Texas lies in the heart of Flash Flood Alley. This is one of the most flood-prone regions in North America. Flash floods are common in this area because of intense rainfall and the drainage off of the landscape. This post covers personal safety during a flooding event, but there are resources below that cover how to prepare and protect your home, property, pets, etc. Special thanks to Thomas Hodge for providing us with these resources on how to stay safe during a flood!

Numerous large flooding events have occurred in Austin’s history. Among these events, the Shoal Creek Flood in May of 1981 killed thirteen people. According to the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department, approximately 8,000 acres drain to Shoal Creek, making it one of Austin’s larger creeks and one of the most flood-prone. Watershed Protection estimates there are approximately 75 buildings, both commercial and residential, vulnerable to flooding within Lower Shoal Creek during a 100-year flood. In addition, long stretches of Lamar Boulevard and other roads become dangerous and impassible with enough rainfall.

Rushing water from flooding is incredibly powerful. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, just six inches of fast moving water can sweep a vehicle off a roadway. Although people have no way of knowing when a flash flood is coming, they can prepare for the eventuality and become educated on flood safety. These tips from the Watershed Protection Department are a few of the steps you can take during a storm to stay safe:

  1. Be alert to your surroundings.
  2. Monitor local media such as the local news and the ATXFloods website.
  3. Avoid driving unless there’s an emergency.
  4. Stay away from bodies of water.
  5. Seek higher ground if water is rising around you.

If you have to drive during a flooding event, use extreme caution. In Texas, 75% of flood-related deaths occur in vehicles. Not all flooded roads will be barricaded, so please avoid low water crossings and actively look for water on the road. When in doubt, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”

Flood Awareness and Safety Resources:

“How to Evacuate Before a Storm or Flood”

“Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities: What to Do When Emergency Weather Strikes”

“Make an Emergency Preparedness Plan for Pets”

“Do You Live in Flash Flood Alley?”

“FEMA Flood Map Service Center”

“Flash Flood Safety and Damage Prevention Guide”

“Flood Health and Safety”

“Watershed Protection Department-Flood Safety”

“Safe Cleaning After a Home Flood”