Lake Travis homeowners prepare to uproot to higher ground

Lake Travis (Mark Batchelder/KXAN)
Lake Travis (Mark Batchelder/KXAN)

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – While Central Texans have anxiously awaited Lake Travis filling up once again, the milestone also comes with anxiety for those closest to the water.

“You have to have a plan when you live out here,” said Cindi Lavas, a Lake Travis homeowner of 14 years. “To be ready to start packing everything.”

But just because you have a plan, doesn’t make leaving any easier. Neighbors along Graveyard Point Drive know the feeling.

“Everyone’s getting ready. Everybody that’s lived out here, they’re cleaning out the lower areas of their homes,” said Lavas.

The last time they saw major flooding was in 2007, after the Marble Falls “rain bomb.” Over 20 inches of rain poured down over the area in just a few hours.

That was the last time flood gate operations occurred at Mansfield Dam.

Lavas’ home looks a lot different than it did before that flood. Prior to 2007, the home was just one story. She and her husband had to build much higher to be allowed to stay.

“I wish they would open a flood gate if we do have six inches,” said Lavas. “Then that would stop all of us in Graveyard Point to have to pack and get out.”

Homeowners aren’t the only ones preparing for possible flooding. Emergency responders are too.

“It was hard because we’d go from one residence to the other, to the other, trying to help them out the best we could,” remembers David Clark, with Lake Travis Fire Rescue. He was working during the 2007 flood. “But unfortunately we can’t move the water, we can’t make the flood waters recede.”

The department just bought a new boat, which can help them save stranded homeowners during floods.

“What this boat is capable of doing is we can use it in a swift water environment, during flooding situations. And can also use it in a still water environment.”

Currently, they have a fire boat on Lake Travis that is much larger. The new vessel will allow rescuers to pick up residents in tighter spots, rather than wading through water to get them.

“There is the potential that all these low-lying areas, the Graveyard Points for example, they could be under water and we could be having to go out there using our new Zodiac, helping these people get out.”

The LCRA says several factors determine if they can open up flood gates.

They’ll look at the amount of water in Lake Travis, the amount of water flowing into Lake Travis and the amount of water downstream.

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