Lake Waco is poised for a busy Fourth of July weekend now that boat ramps, swamped for more than a month, have reopened.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reopened ramps at Koehne and Speegleville parks late Tuesday and were hoping to open Midway Park and Speegleville campground by July 12.
Airport Park and Airport Beach could open by the end of July, depending on how severe the flood damage was, park ranger Randall McCartney said.
Traffic on the lake has been nearly nonexistent since the Memorial Day floods, which raised the lake level 17 feet over its normal level of 462 feet above sea level. By Wednesday, the lake was down to a level of 464 feet.
Lake Waco Marina in Speegleville Park reopened at noon Wednesday, and the marina restaurant, the Slippery Minnow, was set to open Thursday, owner Rich Chatmas said.
He said he had to spend up to $100,000 repairing damage to his facility and lost a prime month of business. But Chatmas said he is optimistic that he can salvage the rest of the year, starting with a strong Independence Day weekend.
“Waco has pretty dedicated boaters who love their lake and water recreation,” he said. “I think based on the phone calls we’ve received, we’re probably going to be overwhelmed. People are ready to get their lake on.”
Carrie Kuehl, who owns a pleasure boat and houseboat on Lake Waco, said she’ll be among the crowd. She is planning a “mini family reunion” Saturday and Sunday at the houseboat, which she calls a family hub. She said her family plans to make up for lost time by getting out on the lake as much as possible this summer.
“It’s the weather, you know,” she said. “You can’t be angry at it. But we were looking forward to a great summer, and it was pretty sad there for a while. It’s really well-timed that it’s going to be open for this weekend.”
Before the water receded, Kuehl kayaked out to the houseboat and found that it was still in good condition.
But she discovered a new occupant: a rat snake that had slithered aboard and was feasting on duck eggs, including one still visible in its belly.
“I nearly stepped on it,” she said. “I was not happy.”
Kuehl has been boating at Tradinghouse Lake during the hiatus from Lake Waco and said the lake has been popular among other displaced boaters.