AUSTIN (KXAN) — The same torrential rains that brought flash flooding, lightning fires, multiple water rescues and widespread power outages also raised Lake Travis 6 inches since midnight, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority. Most of the overnight rain fell downstream of the lake.
Floodgate operations have ended at Tom Miller Dam in Austin, where officials had one floodgate open at some point throughout the overnight hours. Three floodgates were open at the peak of the overnight rains. Flows below the dam in Lady Bird Lake were reportedly unusually high and fast during the time floodgates were open at Tom Miller Dam.
During that time, officials warned: “Anyone downstream of Tom Miller Dam should take immediate action to protect people and property.”
Onion Creek is now above above flood stage, according to a Lower Colorado River Authority gauge at U.S. Highway 183. The bank is full at 15 feet, and flood stage level sits at 17 feet. Still, Austin Homeland Security Emergency Management officials say this is not expected to threaten homes.
As Onion Creek started to rise to alarming levels, a reverse 911 notification was activated for 353 homes — asking neighbors to take precautions. A reverse 911 means people will be receiving phone calls with instructions on what to do during this potentially dangerous time.
In both English and Spanish, the call went out to to neighbors in the call radius near Onion Creek: “The city is monitoring the water flow for Onion Creek. The water continues to rise, but has not reached flooding stage at this time. Residents are advised to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Should the creek reach flood stage, a warning message will follow.”
Austin police said earlier Thursday morning that if Onion Creek reached flood stage, a warning message would be sent out. However, City Office of Emergency Management official Jake Dirr says another warning is not currently being distributed, which he explains: “LCRA flood gauge is a technical interpretation for flood by National Weather Service based on metrics. APD and Flood Early Warning System engineers are monitoring the conditions. If the water reaches the stage where it is actually flooding and threatening residences, another message will be sent out.”
Meanwhile, rescue crews are searching for a person who was reportedly swept away when high waters overcame their car about 2 a.m., just downstream from Mansfield Dam. Austin-Travis County EMS officials say they have located the vehicle, but are still looking for the person who was seen inside. Crews are searching for the person in the 3400 block of Fritz Hughes Park Road.