Lacy Lakeview resident Andrea Owen had just wrapped up a neighborhood tradition when she noticed half the bridge on her street was missing.
A tornado, heavy rains and high winds had swept through Central Texas on Monday night, and by Tuesday morning it was still raining. Heavy rains have flooded White Rock Creek before, sending water above the bridge on Ruby Dell Lane and stranding neighbors who live on the private road.
Families in the small neighborhood are used to brief stints cut off from their connection to Gholson Road, and the children in the area knew what to do. They raced to Owen’s house at the end of the dead-end street.
“Just a little fun tradition with the neighborhood kids is they come to my house for pancakes,” she said of days when the bridge is flooded. “It’s kind of our snow day since we don’t have snow days. The kids get real excited.”
About 10 a.m. Tuesday, everyone was full from breakfast, and Owen decided to take a look at the bridge.
“I’m videoing it and going, ‘Oh, that doesn’t look right,’ ” she said.
With water still rushing over the bridge, it wasn’t immediately clear how much of the bridge had fallen away, but as water receded, Owen and her neighbors were struck by the damage.
A section of the bridge is out. The city’s waterline also was damaged, leaving the whole street without water, and cable and internet lines are damaged.
But instead of complaining or going to stay at a friend’s house until someone else resolved the problem, the multigenerational community on Ruby Dell Lane started looking after one another.
Many of the neighbors immediately set to work building a walking ramp, with handrails, to allow residents at the end of the street to cross to the other side.
“We have a neighborhood that is just absolutely the most awesome neighborhood that comes out and helps one another whenever they can,” said Dana Strickland, who lives on the street. “It’s just a neighborhood that truly just cares for one another.”
One neighbor started delivering bottled water to everyone. Another delivered mail, and when city officials came to inspect the bridge, another neighbor brought them fried chicken, Strickland said.
‘We all pitch in’
“Life throws you curves like this. It does,” he said. “We all pitch in to do whatever is necessary to make things happen.”
Owen said her immediate and extended family purchased the 18 acres of land that has become the neighborhood. They named the street after her mother-in-law, Ruby Dell Owen, who is still one of the hardest-working individuals she knows, Owen said.
Since the road and bridge are privately owned, it is not up to the city to make the repairs, but that doesn’t mean it won’t assist, City Manager Keith Bond said.
“We’re going to help them by doing a little hauling for them to fill in the gap that’s gone,” Bond said. “They’ll go in there and concrete and cement the top and complete the roadway.”
The waterline, however, is up to the city to maintain, and by Wednesday afternoon, residents had water again. But, the 25 residences on the street will remain under a boil order for about three days until the city gives the all-clear, he said.
Owen said she was actually looking forward to being forced to stay home once the bridge was impassable by vehicle, but life beckons. On Tuesday, a neighbor with a four-wheel-drive SUV was able to make it to the back of her property, cross a neighbor’s land and drop off residents on Spring Lake Road.
“I was telling someone today, even with everyone’s water being off and internet and cable, which is not a big deal in the scheme of life, no one has complained,” Owen said.
“Everyone has just seen it more as an inconvenience and said, ‘God’s in control and he’s taking care of us.’ Also, the city of Lacy Lakeview has worked tirelessly to get everything back in order, and they have just done an amazing job.”