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Flash floods wash over Highland Lakes; two people rescued from car

Slickrock Creek is normally a quiet stream that flows through the heart of Horseshoe Bay. It became a roiling torrent after heavy rains on May 31, 2024. Llano County Office of Emergency Management photo

Torrential rainfall caused flash flooding across Burnet and Llano counties on May 31. Raging waters swept away boats, swamped waterside properties, and even led to a helicopter swiftwater rescue on Flatrock Creek in Marble Falls.

Over 3 inches of rain was recorded Friday on several Lower Colorado River Authority gauges across the area. Much of that rain fell in a short but heavy burst on Friday evening. Horseshoe Bay was particularly impacted by the deluge.

“It rained heavy for 25 minutes from the storm system that hit Horseshoe Bay around 7:43 p.m.,” wrote Llano County Emergency Management Coordinator Gilbert Bennet in response to questions from “Roads were shut down by the Horseshoe Bay Fire Department for public safety along Slickrock Creek.”

Slickrock Creek is normally a small stream that crosses FM 2147 in the heart of Horseshoe Bay. It became a rushing torrent on Friday.

Eye-witness accounts of property damage from the flooding in Horseshoe Bay spread across social media during the storm. Resident Julie Meyers shared a video in which boats and debris can be seen floating downstream past submerged patios and yards.

A drone’s-eye view of a vehicle stuck in the middle of Flatrock Creek in Marble Falls after torrential rains on May 31, 2024, caused flash flooding across southern Burnet County. Two people had to be rescued by helicopter from the vehicle. Spicewood Fire Rescue photo

Farther east on FM 2147, first responders had to conduct a swiftwater rescue by helicopter after two people were swept away in their vehicle on Flatrock Creek near CR 401, just behind the 7-11 gas station on U.S. 281 in south Marble Falls.

At least eight agencies responded to the rescue call on Friday night. They included the Marble Falls Area Volunteer Fire Department, Marble Falls Fire Rescue, Marble Falls Area Emergency Services, Granite Shoals Fire Rescue, Travis County STAR Flight, Marble Falls Police Department, Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, and Texas Department of Public Safety.

According to Spicewood Fire Rescue Capt. Andrew Hunt, who was on the scene as a thermal drone pilot, a vehicle was swept off the road by the creek, which had risen over FM 2147 to become a “raging river” in Hunt’s words. The vehicle and its two occupants were pushed downstream about 400 yards, where they were able to climb out and get to a small island in the stream. 

First responders tried to rescue them by wading into the rushing water, but those attempts were unsuccessful. Eventually, Travis County STAR Flight arrived with a helicopter and hoisted the pair away from danger. They were reportedly shivering from the cold but otherwise unharmed and able to return home that night. The vehicle was still stuck in the creek as of Saturday, June 1.

“(The creek) was probably only a foot over the roadway,” Hunt said. “It doesn’t take much, especially when it’s fast-moving like it was.”