Wichita Falls Police Department Chief Manuel Borrego and Wichita County Sheriff David Duke worked hard today, May 23 to protect citizens of Wichita Falls and Wichita County from the rising flood tides which threaten to engulf an increasingly larger area. Many citizens woke up Wednesday morning of this week to discover that Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel was referring to the Wichita Falls, Texas flooding as the top weather story in the nation.
Other Weather Channel personnel talked about how strange it was that in January they were talking about this city a stone’s throw from the Red River as being in the midst of one of the worst droughts in history. The lack of rain had become so severe that officials of the City devised a new system by which residents would drink recycled “potty water” from their commodes as many people put it.
Local Wichita Falls weather forecasters marveled at the fact this North Texas city had gone from drought to deluge in a remarkably short period of time. One Wichitan said, “We’ve been praying for rain. But we’d like it spread out a little bit more than this.”
Residents were also dismayed to hear that a mandatory evacuation had been ordered for people living in Tanglewood, an upscale neighborhood in the middle of the flood plain. Electricity was cut off to the affluent area and homeowners instructed to move to higher ground. Some residents of the area declined to leave their homes despite the order, but they were still without electricity. Part of the Tanglewood area is believed to be safe from the surging flood waters.
One resident said, “We walked past several police officers walking in and out of our house and none of them told us we had to leave. Since we don’t have electricity we have to charge our devices at locations away from our home.”
A flood evacuation update was issued by the Wichita Falls Police Department today, Saturday afternoon, May 23. This report read in pertinent part as follows: “Residents of Wichita Falls and Wichita County are advised of the threat for the potential of large-scale flooding along the Wichita River. Predictions from the National Weather Service indicate that significant flooding along the Wichita River is very likely. The National Weather Service is calling this an ‘historic’ flood event.”
Local television news anchor Melissa Foy announced Saturday that The City of Wichita Falls and Wichita County have issued an order for residents living along the Wichita River within one-half mile of either side of the river.
City officials drew up a map depicting the areas that are expected to flood. That area can be found at the City Website wichitafallstx.gov or the Wichita County Website at co.wichita.tx.us. Anyone who discovers they are living in the red area of the map is advised by law enforcement officials to evacuate for their own safety.
Residents in the endangered areas can call 2-1-1 for additional information or the Emergency Operations Center at 761-7909, according to a report issued by WFPD officer Harold McCclure.
Residents who were concerned only a few days ago that Wichita Falls might turn into a desert were now concerned they might be facing a flood of biblical proportions. Surely not 40 days and 40 nights.
Wrangler’s Retreat and Horseshoe Bend were two other neighborhoods threatened by the floods. People could be seen on local news channels piling up sandbags to halt the floods into these areas. A fourth area at risk from the rising waters is Eastside.
The Wichita Falls City Council met Tuesday and voted to loosen the watering restrictions that were in place during the drought from Stage 5 to Stage 3. This means Wichitans will be able to begin watering their yards one day a week now. Katherine Smith of Smith’s Nursery praised the move as a way to increase economic growth.
“People will start buying plants and flowers again if they know they will be allowed to water them,” she said.
A journalist from WFAA-TV of Dallas was in Wichita Falls, Tex. to observe the disaster. WFAA talked to several residents who said they were told they had 24 hours to evacuate. The rain is helping terminate the four-year drought which has inflicted itself on the citizens of this city of 105,000.
But the unexpected amount of rain has created the flood. People at risk from the flood may find refuge at Hirschi High School or Mount Pleasant Baptist Church as well as Antioch Baptist Church.
Two public safety command posts have been established by Wichita Falls Law Enforcement personnel. One is the Public Safety Training Center at 710 Flood Street which is operated by the Wichita Falls Police Department under the direction of Chief Manuel Borrego.
Another refuge site is the parking lot of the old Brookshire’s grocery store building on the corner of Loop 11 and Seymour Highway.
Residents needing assistance with pets can call (940) 228-9941.
The Wichita River has risen a foot and a half since Thursday to 18.77 feet.
Wichita Falls and Wichita County law enforcement and other officials held a meeting Saturday morning to discuss the changing flood situation. The conventional wisdom is that it will be worse than originally planned.
City crews of Wichita Falls pumped water from the Duncan Channel into Wichita Falls in order to prevent the East Side of the city from flooding, according to KFDX television news.
Several Memorial Day events were canceled due to the flooding by the Wichita Falls Parks and Recreation Department, according to KAUZ-TV.
Lake Wichita was nothing more than a dust bowl a short time ago. It is now re-filled to capacity although it is only four feet deep. A movement to develop the lake as a recreational area has been proposed. Proponents face prohibitive drudging costs to deepen the lake. It would’ve perhaps been a lot easier and lot expensive if this initiative was launched when there was no water in the lake.
Water levels have dramatically increased for all area lakes. Lake Arrowhead was sitting at 82.9 per cent as of 4 p.m. Friday after being around 20 per cent before the rains came.
Lake Kickapoo is continuing to surge over its spillway which is an increase from 82.3 percent on Wednesday, according to Texoma’s Homepage.com. The good result of that is Kickapoo is now filling up Arrowhead.
The backup water supply at Lake Kemp has risen from 25.2% a month ago to 46.6 % full now.
The good news is the water supply is suddenly in good condition. The bad news is many Wichitans have been forced from their homes by the flood. Since the levels aren’t supposed to crest until Tuesday, residents should keep an eye on all weather updates recording the flooding as this is a fluid situation.