Bastrop prepares as water levels continue to rise

For the past few days, much of what’s happened in all the lakes in Austin, has made its way down south to Bastrop.

At Neighbor’s Kitchen and Yard, the lake levels have been rising significantly. Tom Dickey is the owner there and says most of this customers say what they’ve seen is out of the ordinary. From the back porch the observation deck and much of the light pole is completely underwater right now.

“It’s slowly making its way to the back stage. We have an event going on there this Saturday, but if the water covers it, there will be no event,” Dickey says.

Connie Schroeder is the Mayor of the City of Bastrop, and she says she’s been watching the water level numbers for quite some time. City council took the first vote on the 90 day moratorium on August 14th so it's been 9 weeks and 2 days since it kicked off.  “It wasn't a moratorium on development, it was a moratorium on development that would either flood itself or flood its neighbors,” Schroeder says.

The city has issued 195 building permits since the moratorium started. 51 of those have been residential or commercial spaces. There hasn't been a person that's come into the city and has asked for a permit, and hasn't received one. "Part of building Bastrop was stopping permits that would flood other folks, the other part of building Bastrop is updating our regulations and codes,” she adds.

She says this goes hand in hand with what’s happening now in Bastrop.

"It's not just if it rains in Bastrop it can rain anywhere between Bastrop all the way up above Buchanan and the soil just can't physically can't take in anymore water so again so it's fully saturated and when that rain falls it's going to end up coming past Bastrop."

The mayor says there are a few low water crossings that are closed in the area, but for the most part things are okay in the city. The flood gauge in Bastrop is expected to reach 23 ft. by Saturday. As of Thursday, it’s about 19.5 ft. 23 ft. is the flood stage level. In 2015, the December flood reached 36.17 ft. In 1991, the flood that LCRA has been referencing in their press conferences to update folks, reached 37.48 ft. Hurricane Harvey, levels reached 25.92 ft.

So no it’s not expected to reach catastrophic levels, however the mayor says they’re fully prepared. She says to always be situationally aware and if your area tends to flood, make plans now. The Bastrop police department will be knocking on doors of areas close by the water to let them know if they need to evacuate. They’ll also be calling. They’re also encouraging everyone to sign up for Warn Central Texas for updates too. 

She says, "We just need there to not be any more rain in Central Texas, but unfortunately the forecast says that's unfortunately not going to be the case. Quite frankly if we really get hit hard one of the options is to rely on our good partners in Elgin. They also have a shelter and depending on what the water looks like it's going to peak out, it would be safer for folks to go out at Elgin. If it floods we've got to be respectful of the fact that the river divides our town in half."

Mayor Schroeder says state representatives and state senator Kirk Watson has been dialing in frequently to make sure the city is up to date on new information concerning lakes, dams and flooding.

She says folks should go to the city’s Facebook page for frequent updates.

And as for Neighbor’s Kitchen and Yard, they’re aware their business sits higher up than some of the ones downstream, and they’re willing to help their neighbors out. Tom Dickey says, "We'll use this as a rallying point for the community and problems need to be solved and how we can help to do that."