About 200,000 gallons of domestic sewage and wastewater was spilled and bursting out of manholes throughout Waco early Tuesday morning after about 1.7 inches of rain poured on Waco and surrounding areas Monday, with floodwaters stranding drivers.
Officials warned people to avoid manholes in 14 different locations, according to a city press release. The wastewater discharge was caused by “the large amount of rain over the past several days and the resulting infiltration of stormwater into the wastewater collection system,” according to city spokesman Jonathan Echols.
“If (citizens) see water bubbling up where a manhole is, that’s going to be wastewater,” Echols said. “So they need to stay away from that.”
Those areas include 1100 University Parks Drive, 939 Trice Ave., 1908 N. 12th St., 1720 Maple Ave., 2200 N. 17th St., 1824 N. 12th St., 400 University Parks Drive, 4323 N. 27th St., 916 Valley Mills Drive, 2640 Cedar Ridge Drive, 4900 Skeet Eason Road, 5028 Ridgeview Drive, 1900 Edna Ave. and 1600 University Parks Drive.
Steve Fano, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said there are scattered thunderstorms in the forecast every afternoon and evening through Monday of next week. There are 40 percent chances of rain Friday and Saturday, he said.
Fano said Tuesday afternoon that 7.97 inches of rain have fallen in Waco this month, which makes it — so far — the ninth wettest May in the city since the organization began recording those numbers.
The wettest May in Waco on record was in 1965, at 15 inches even, Fano said.
Shirley Martin, who said she has lived on Webb Street in Bellmead for nearly 40 years, has experienced flooding in her neighborhood whenever it rains as heavily as it did Monday, she said.
Martin said the inside of her home was not damaged Monday but that the water reached up to her front porch.
As officials worked to survey damage Tuesday, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said the most severe street flooding in Waco was near LaSalle Avenue and Primrose Drive, Old Robinson Drive and select parts of Waco Drive. Swanton said some drivers attempted to steer through water, but the depth flooded their engines.
He said police responded to calls across the city to help stranded citizens who were trapped in vehicles, but no serious rescues in moving water were needed. Some officers stayed past their regular shifts to assist with crashes and rescue efforts Monday, Swanton said.
Waco Creek flooding
McLennan County Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Patterson said his office was informed of six homes flooding along Waco Creek in the Beverly Hills area Monday and that firefighters were sent to Riesel to help residents in an RV park reach higher ground.
Patterson said the flooding was intense but brief, with the levels receding nearly as quickly as they rose. He said officials are in communication with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to monitor dams controlling levels in Lake Waco, Lake Whitney and Lake Aquilla.
“We’ll monitor the gauges in the rivers around here and be working with the Corps,” Patterson said. “Hopefully, we’ll dry out a little bit and they can get their lake levels down.”
Patterson said some roads in Waco received surface damage where the floods lifted asphalt and added that Waco residents suffered some power outages during the day.
Two paramedics with East Texas Medical Center were injured by a nearby lightning bolt just after 3 p.m. Monday.
Spokesman James Stefka said the two were walking up to a home in Hewitt to pick up a patient when they were knocked down by the force of the lightning.
Hewitt firefighters responded to assist the paramedics, Stefka said, and the two ultimately were taken to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center by another ambulance.
“They’re lucky they weren’t struck directly,” Stefka said. “Anytime a rescuer themselves gets hurt, it’s scary for us, too.”
Neither of the two were seriously injured, and both since have been released from the hospital, Stefka said.
Coryell County Emergency Management Coordinator Billy Vaden said Gatesville was hit with felled tree limbs and brief power outages. He said Pidcoke suffered tornado damage, especially in a cemetery and with tree limbs, but that only about three people suffered any damage to their homes. Vaden planned to survey more damage throughout the day Tuesday, he said.
According to a statement released Tuesday, the State Bar of Texas established a legal hotline at 800-504-7030 to help answer basic legal questions and connect people with local legal aid providers after the recent flooding and severe weather in Texas.
The hotline, which offers answers in both English and Spanish, is designed to aid low-income people impacted by the weather. More information is available at texasbar.com/floodresponse and texaslawhelp.org.
Officials warned people to avoid manholes in 14 different locations around Waco:
- 1100 University Parks Drive
- 939 Trice Ave.
- 1908 N. 12th St.
- 1720 Maple Ave.
- 2200 N. 17th St.
- 1824 N. 12th St.
- 400 University Parks Drive
- 4323 N. 27th St.
- 916 Valley Mills Drive
- 2640 Cedar Ridge Drive
- 4900 Skeet Eason Road
- 5028 Ridgeview Drive
- 1900 Edna Ave.
- 1600 University Parks Drive