Forced to stay on high ground as the sun flexed ever-growing muscles for half the summer, boaters swarmed the few public boat ramps this weekend on Lake Waco that have finally reopened.

Gate guards at the Airport Beach ramp Saturday said the ramps at Speegleville Park and the Flat Rock Park also had opened as Lake Waco’s waters finally settled down to 462.51 feet, only half a foot above normal.

Erica Bullock said she and her family took their boat to Lake Whitney last weekend because the Army Corps of Engineers was letting people onto the lake then.

“But this is right around the corner from our house. It’s great to finally be here,” Bullock said of the Lake Waco ramps reopening.

She was at the Airport Beach ramp with her husband, Duane, and their children and grandchildren.

“We’re just going to ride around a little and maybe let the kids get on the tubes,” she said.

At midafternoon, Keith Sanders docked his two personal watercrafts with his son, Austin, 7.

“That one machine has been in the shop for a long time and cost a bundle,” Sanders said. “After I spent all that, I just had to get it in the water to make sure it worked.”

He said he would probably be back Sunday.

Other ramps at the lake reportedly remained closed. McLennan County sheriff’s deputies said their reports were that all parks remained closed.

As late as July 4, Lake Waco water was still 6 feet above normal as engineers held water back to avoid causing further flooding to the disaster-ridden lands on the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The water level at its peak June 7 was about 22 feet above normal, flooding boat ramps, parks, roads and the Lake Waco Wetlands boardwalks. Most facilities needed some time to dry, and many picnic shelters and screen shelters were heavily damaged, some destroyed.

“There’s a lot of unknowns. Our goal is to get as much open as we possibly can,” Lake Waco manager Heath McLane said in early July.

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