Thousands of Williamson County residents living in high-flooding areas

A new warning from the Texas Water Development Board put millions of people at risk of flooding. But, Williamson County has been trying to identify flood-prone areas for several years now.

"Seeing it on a computer and walking in and really seeing the impact of it is very heartfelt," said Cindy Engelhardt with Half Associates, which helped the county put together a new floodplain mapping study called Atlas 14.

Williamson County knows devastating flooding well. It happened in 2018 along the San Gabriel River.

Before that, flooding overwhelmed the county in 2015, and again in 2010, due to Tropical Storm Hermine. 

Engelhardt said flash flooding occurs regularly as well.

"We’re in flash flood alley, and as y'all have seen in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some pretty major flooding," said Engelhardt.

Atlas 14 comes after NOAA predicted more intense storms in Williamson County over the next few years.

"I’m not saying it’s going to rain more in Williamson County. However, the storms that come through in a 24-hour period, that’s how we define our floodplains. Previously, they were dropping about 8-10 inches and now this new data is telling us to expect 10-12 inches of rainfall," said Engelhardt.

The study identifies about 6,000 new sites that sit on a floodplain. Atlas 14 added about 1,300 stream miles to the study, which were not areas considered before 1994.

"We are doing new studies in those areas where there were never floodplains, or FEMA floodplains previously, so that’s kind of in part some of that major increase," said Engelhardt.

Just because a property sits on a floodplain does not mean it is guaranteed to flood.

Engelhardt added that some of the new structures at risk may have been built to withstand high waters. Regardless, the county can do a lot with the new data.

"It helps us on existing structures to understand how high is that water?" said Engelhardt. "How at risk are we? And potentially ways to reduce that risk."

It's also helpful for deciding on new construction and roadways. It may be even more critical for homeowners.

"We want to continue raising the awareness and helping people better understand floods such that we save lives and property and all the other things and just be more resilient moving forward," said Engelhardt.

The county will have eight more open houses regarding the new floodplain sites. They are all between 5-7 p.m.:

  • May 29: Williamson County Georgetown Annex, 100 Wilco Way, Room 226, Georgetown, TX 78626
  • May 30: Williamson County Jester Center, 1801 E Old Settlers Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78664
  • June 3: The Retreat Activity Center in Sun City, 1220 Cattleman Drive, Georgetown, TX 78633
  • June 4: East Williamson County Higher Education Center, 1600 Innovation Blvd., Hutto, TX 78634
  • June 5: Dickey Givens Center, 1015 E MLK Jr. Blvd., Taylor, TX 76574
  • June 6: Williamson County Cedar Park Annex, Judge Williams Courtroom, 350 Discovery Blvd., Cedar Park, TX 78613
  • June 10: Walburg Community Center, 4000 FM 972, Georgetown, TX 78623
  • June 11: Sonterra MUD Clubhouse, 510 Sonterra Blvd., Jarrell, TX 76537
  • June 17: St. Dominic Savio Catholic School (in the library), 9300 Neenah Avenue, Austin, TX 78717