Crews save three in Marble Falls-area swiftwater rescues
CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — Emergency crews rescued at least three people from vehicles Nov. 7-8 as several inches of rain drenched the Highland Lakes overnight, swelling creeks and low-water crossings to dangerous levels, officials said.
At about 1 a.m. Nov. 8, emergency workers arrived at the scene of an incident involving a four-door Lincoln LS stalled on Backbone Creek Bridge in Johnson Park in Marble Falls.
“They described that the water was over the headlights of the vehicle. The driver had crawled out onto the roof of his car,” Marble Falls Police Detective Sgt. Tom Dillard said. “Ultimately, the Marble Falls Fire (Rescue) was able to get out to the vehicle using some of their swiftwater rescue gear and bring the guy back safely.”
The rescue took about a half-hour, he said.
A wrecker removed the vehicle from the bridge before sunrise.
“It was a little bit unexpected, the rain that came in last night. Our public works department was actually putting up barricades in various parts of the city,” Dillard said. “(Backbone Creek Bridge flooding) rarely happens. The only other time I can think of is the 2007 flood.”
During that flood in July 2007, as much as 19 inches fell in the Highland Lakes area over several hours in one night.
During the latest storm, reports indicated about seven inches of rain in some areas between Marble Falls and Burnet, flooding streams and creeks and resulting in dangerous high-water situations in low-lying areas.
In two other incidents Nov. 7-8 in Marble Falls, fast-moving water swept two unoccupied vehicles off roadways.
High water overnight carried one parked vehicle off Commerce Street downstream in an over-flowing creek.
In another report, a motorist traveled down Nature Heights just off U.S 281 and stalled.
The occupants made it out of the vehicle safely; however, swift water swept the vehicle down the creek.
“We have a whole lot more low-water crossings than people to monitor them,” Dillard said.
In another rescue northwest of the city, the Marble Falls Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the scene of a vehicle swept off the roadway on Fairland Road (RR 1855) in Burnet County.
Burnet County deputies and a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pulled the individual to safety.
Fortunately, no one was injured.
“If you’ve got visible, flowing water over the roadways, just don’t drive into it,” Dillard said. “(The Johnson Park) car apparently stalled when he got in the middle of the bridge. A small problem can turn into a much bigger problem as time progresses.
“It’s just not worth the risk,” he added. “This gentleman was very lucky that things didn’t get so much worse where he could have been injured or lost his life.”
The Lower Colorado River Authority opened at least one floodgate at Max Starcke Dam on Lake Marble Falls for a half-hour during the night to handle runoff.