Effort underway to upgrade flood advisory map for ATXFloods

When water from Bull Creek starts to flow over this crossing on Spicewood Springs Rd, an alert is transmitted and posted on the atxfloods web site. 1,682 flood prone sites are marked with green dots that change to red when a roadway is no longer passable. Since the site was launched 3 years ago, lives have been saved according to Kevin Shunk with Austin watershed protection.

"I absolutely do, I think it really has, 75% of flood deaths in Texas are vehicle related."

Shunk was at the Austin city council meeting Thursday to talk about upgrading the atxflood site. Approval was given for the department to seek a $100-thousand state grant. The money, which requires an equal match by the city, would be used to upgrade the computer program.

"There will be some minor improvements to it, it will be a little faster to refresh and reload and then maybe also plan for us to do some significant improvements to it at a later time."

The city will find out if it will get the state grant later this fall. The state grant, from the Texas Water Development Board, will not be used to purchase more on line cameras. There are currently only 3 on the map. Each site cost $400 to install and a $1,000 a year to operate.

"We have some now that we are testing in locations and we will try to roll those out as soon as we can get funding put them in place an get them on the website,” said Shunk.

Onion Creek in Driftwood could be a location for one of those cameras. There is a gauge out there now. Having a camera would provide officials with visual confirmation that a surge was on the way to Buda and South Austin."

Crystal Dawn Skaggs and her dog daisy have seen first hand how quickly onion creek can rise.

"Within minutes it changes."

Skaggs says the atxfloods map is helpful, but believes the warning system that calls residents by phone is also in need of an upgrade.