Engineers gave area residents an update Thursday on the sometimes tedious work that may one day prevent property damage and threats to human life caused by flooding along Flat Creek.
Midway graduate LaCharles Montgomery drowned after Flat Creek floodwaters swept his car off the road while he was driving home from work late at night in June 2014.
“Mother Nature knows no jurisdictional boundaries,” Walker Partners President George “Jed” Walker said. “This really has to be a regional effort, because we need to bring the flood plain up to where it is today.”
Officials and residents from Waco, Robinson, Woodway and Hewitt gathered at Midway High School on Thursday for the second public meeting on the Flat Creek Flood Protection Study to get public feedback and update residents of the Flood Protection Planning grant from the Texas Water Development Board concerning Flat Creek.
The municipalities received about $300,000 last fall to update a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood map so it includes up-to-date flood plains in the region, mainly for insurance purposes.
“To the people living with it every day, they know where it is and so they say, ‘Yeah, you’re putting it on paper,’ but we have to do that to be able to come up with long-term solutions,” Walker said. “Part of what we are identifying are areas that we can generate computer models to determine where we believe the flood plain to be. Then we will go in and look at capital improvement plans with estimated costs so cities can figure out how to finance and approve projects.”
The meeting focused on Flat Creek, which flows throughout the four cities and has been causing flooding damage for residents for more than 50 years. Robinson landowner Robert Pryor, who has owned property along Flat Creek for more than 20 years, said he was frustrated during the meeting because the planning process seems slow.
“The water runs up on my property — not in Flat Creek,” Pryor said. “I asked a question about why someone doesn’t just clean the creek out? Clean out the trash, the trees and everything that is backing it up, because then the creek might not flood so much.”
Presenters highlighted regional flooding throughout McLennan County during the community presentation from floods in the past 100 years, including the flood that led to Montgomery’s death.
HDR engineering firm project manager Curtis Beitel said up-to-date hydraulic mapping will give local cities a better guide to public safety risks and local zoning properties as the area’s population continues to expand. Solutions will not come overnight, but the extensive mapping will guide future progress, Beitel said.
“We didn’t get in this situation overnight and we aren’t going to get out of it overnight either, so it will take a while, but we need to get the planning process going to get to future projects,” Beitel said. “(In 20 years), I think there will be less flood damage in the Flat Creek watershed because of this project.”
A third public meeting will be planned for this fall, Walker said. He said engineers will continue to meet with local residents and map locations of concern for flooding.