Potential solution to flooding problem too costly for residents

Posted at 9:30 PM, Nov 05, 2015
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:29:56-04

Residents in rural McLennan County who were stranded in their homes for almost two weeks because of road flooding want a long-term solution to the problem.

Residents of homes located between the 1400 and 1900 block of Lincoln City Road near Elm Mott were unable to travel through the road because two portions of the road were flooded.

Resident Chris Blount transported others on a boat to get across the flooded roads while some residents used horses to navigate the floodwaters.

"Actually last night was the first time we were able to drive across in two weeks,” said Blount.

According to County Engineer Stephen Hendrick, in the early 1960s, McLennan County became a sponsor in a federal watershed protection project.

Part of the project included building two flood control structures near Lincoln City Road. The structures retain storm water and release it slowly to prevent downstream from flooding.

The structure is expected to flood areas upstream as they fill up. In the inundation agreement filed by McLennan County, it allowed the flooding of Lincoln City Road, according to Hendrick. In 1982, there was only one residence or farm located between the two flood zones. However, more residences have been built in that area since then, said Hendrick.

Two residents who talked to News Channel 25 on Thursday said they were not made aware their properties were between two flood zones until they experienced the flooding of the road. Hendrick said residents can inquire whether their land is located near a flood zone.

Hendrick said there are two possible improvements that could provide relief to residents.

One of them would require residents to build an emergency access road through private land at their own expense. They would have to ask for permission for two landowners and a pipeline company.

Resident Chris Blount said residents in the area would not be able to afford a road.

"I have no problem whatsoever giving this land right here for a road because if you needed for emergency access, I mean, come on. I'll do it myself. But I don't have the money to build the road,” said Blount. “I'll donate my time. I can donate some money. We don't have equipment. That's where you run into hard costs, renting equipment."

He said if the county could help with equipment and manpower, it may be possible.

Hendrick said the county’s hands are tied, in part because they can’t make improvements through private property.

“Anytime you expend public funds, it has to be a public purpose that benefits everyone in McLennan County, this would benefit these people obviously but it's a limited benefit and we would have some problems in that regard,” said Hendrick.

Another possible solution would require the county to spend money to raise the road 6 or 12 feet, which may not be feasible. 

"Raising a road, you just don't dump gravel on it, you need to have slopes on the side so that means for every foot you go up, you have to go out so we may not have enough right of way,” said Hendrick. “It’s probably going to be extremely expensive. It will be up to the county commissioners to determine if they wanted to pursue that."

Hendrick plans on going to Lincoln City Road to evaluate the situation and determine if raising the road is if at all a possibility or if there are any other potential solutions.

The Commissioner’s Court will have to approve any of the improvements suggested by Hendricks.

Meanwhile Blount is still concerned another flooding event could impact the residents in that area.

"With these flash flooding and knowing these two lakes back here are used for flood purposes and this was passed in 1964, that's a flood zone area that does cause a little bit of concern,” said Blount.

Will Jones, the McLennan County Commissioner for Precinct 3, said one person has contacted him about the flooding concerns and he is working with that person to find any possible solutions. In addition, he said if there is emergency, residents may contact 911.