Unfinished Smithville detention pond helped keep floodwaters down

Detention pond may have kept floodwaters out of Smithville home (KXAN Photo)
Detention pond may have kept floodwaters out of Smithville home (KXAN Photo)

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A 85-year-old named James Welch lives in Smithville on Seventh Street where more than 20 homes have been damaged because of flooding this weekend. His home is surrounded by water you have to wade to get through.

Welch has lived in the area for 22 years and said that during the past five years it has flooded five times there.

Despite his experience with flooding, Welch didn’t expect the waters to make it as far into his house as they did — covering his porch and filling his entry room with three to four inches of water.

“You can’t second guess mother nature, this was a shock to us, we came back this morning and it was a mess inside,” Welch said.

Welch knows he’ll manage through the high waters surrounding his house and says he worries about his neighbors, but he believes the unfinished retention pond the city is building right behind his house prevented this storm from doing even more damage

Welch is hopeful that when the detention pond is completed it will help out even more. “We can pump the excess water and hold it until the city drain system gets caught up, and when it gets caught up it can get pumped back out,” he said.

City Manager Robert Tamble explained that the city’s detention pond is not technically in operation yet, it is about halfway dug out. But just having the pond there has helped to control water that would have otherwise quickly flooded into neighbors’ yards and homes, Tamble said.

Tamble estimates that the pond currently holds between 8 and 10 million gallons of water. When it is fully operational, it will hold 13.5 million gallons of water. The city is installing the pond thanks to a FEMA grant.

Tamble hopes the pond is completed within the next three to six months, but notes that the city already has a long road ahead as the pond will need to be drained after this flood event, then dug out to be even larger.

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