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, and 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 throughout Austin’s history, among them is the Shoal Creek Flood in May of 1981 that killed thirteen people. According to the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department’s lower Shoal Creek flooding assessment, approximately 8,000 acres drain into 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 of a roadway. Although flash flooding is not always predictable, people can learn more about flood safety and get prepared. The City of Austin recommends taking these steps 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, especially creeks, trails, culverts, ponds and other drainage infrastructure.
  5. Seek higher ground, or a rooftop, 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: