Heavy rain brings power outages and closed low-water crossings to Austin area

Workers braved the sudden cold snap and heavy rain Monday morning in a bucket truck, repairing a broken cross arm on a pole at Parmer Lane and Amberglen Blvd.

At one point there were more than 7,000 Austin Energy customers without power during the morning rains. 2,000 were affected by this outage alone.

Nearby businesses remained open albeit in the dark. Some were doing business by candlelight.

Austin Energy later tweeted the pole on Parmer was fixed and power was restored.

From there FOX 7 drove over to Williamson County. 

Jarred Thomas, WilCo's Director of Emergency Management pointed out there were only a couple of closed low-water crossings in the county at the time -- around noon.

"I think it's important for people to realize that most of the places that flood, especially here in Williamson County are not considered low water crossings. They're roads that are inundated by floodwaters so an area that has typical drainage, through it that may be dry on a typical basis will become inundated with water and flood the roadway," Thomas said.

But with the ground already saturated and more rain on the way this week, they're keeping a watchful eye on the sky.

"Any significant heavy rainfall in an hour or so can very well lead to significant flooding," Thomas said. 

This is one of the county's closed low-water crossings on County Road 123 at Brushy Creek.  The "turn around don't drown" signs were put out with good reason. 

Thomas also drove FOX 7 out to Mankins Crossing that flows into the San Gabriel.  Water wasn't over the road there yet but it was coming close.

"This stream here is usually a wet-weather type of creek so it's not flowing steadily all the time," Thomas said.  "I think right now it's not any worse than it is because I mean drainage systems are working.  As long as we're not overfilling the drainage systems right now so it's able to manage the runoff as it normally would."

In late September a "rain bomb" hit the area. The Williamson County Emergency Operations Center activated. Dozens were rescued from a wedding venue in Liberty Hill called Casa Rio De Colores.  

Thomas says some changes are on the way to how the county handles flood scenarios. They're developing a "flood protection plan" for WilCo, an analysis of the stream basins.

"The goal really is to get people out of the floodway prior to the waters rising and not have to put first responders at risk in getting people out after the fact," Thomas said.