Sen. Cruz and other officials tour Highland Lakes; among muck and destruction, joy still found
CORRECTION: The story on Oct. 18 incorrectly stated Tripp Goodman was in Meadowlakes. He was actually in Pecan Valley in Marble Falls.
STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz visited the Highland Lakes on Oct. 17 to view damage caused by recent flooding and offer federal help to Burnet and Llano counties.
Cruz, along with state and local elected officials, took in the devastation and loss of an entire bridge. However, the highlight of the day seemed to be a little boy in Pecan Valley in Marble Falls whose spirit captured their attention.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams first mentioned the little boy during a press conference Oct. 17 in front of the destroyed 2900 bridge in Kingsland.
“You don’t see that anywhere, but you see that here,” Williams said.
Cruz later expanded on the anecdote.
“You’ve never seen a kid happier being covered in mud,” Cruz said.
The boy they met is 3-year-old Tripp Goodman. His parents are Valerie and Casey Goodman.
Cruz said Tripp’s action is something to remember in hard times.
“Yes, we may face some hard times, but that joy is who we are, and it points to coming through,” he said.
After introductions from Llano County Judge Mary Cunningham and Burnet County Judge James Oakley, Cruz began the press conference speaking about the damage he saw.
He then offered his support to help rebuild damaged areas.
“My message to the good people of Burnet County and Llano County is that the state of Texas is with you,” Cruz said.
Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for the area, and Cruz said the next step to help the area will be to assess how much damage has been done.
“Between the government and state infrastructure, the state has experience dealing with natural disasters,” Cruz said.
Oakley, when asked about a timeline for rebuilding the 2900 bridge, offered further insight.
“We need to let the waters recede so (the Texas Department of Public Transportation) can get in there and see what they’ve got,” Oakley said.
Cunningham offered comic relief.
“I did ask if they could do it in the next month or so, but (TxDOT) said that was out of the question,” Cunningham said.
The loss of the bridge will affect travel for residents and emergency personnel for some time.
Oakley said emergency crews will have to redraw their maps.
Looking ahead, many noted that the area isn’t “out of the woods” yet. More potential rainfall to come could produce more flooding.
“Please heed warnings. I know a lot of people like to do sightseeing, but people are working hard to get their lives back on track. Traffic is backing up and building up in smaller areas. It’s making it hard on them,” said State Rep. Terry Wilson.
Cruz, who is in the middle of campaigning for the Nov. 6 election, was asked one question about his upcoming rally.
“Let me stop you there. Let me focus on the flooding here. I want to keep the discussion on the flooding,” he said.
The 2900 bridge was constructed in 1969 and built to withstand a 50-year flood. According to TxDOT, the bridge underwent routine maintenance in 2010 and, in 2017, was again found to be structurally sound.
“Once the water recedes, TxDOT crews will inspect the damage and determine the best method to repair the bridge. This is a priority for the agency, and repairs will be expedited,” said TxDOT public information officer Brad Wheelis.