Heavy floods cause two deaths and property damage
Heavy rains and heavy flooding hit the Dripping Springs area on Friday night, causing flash floods and two reported deaths.
Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler confirmed on Saturday afternoon that the body of Michael Brandon Hurlbut, age 55, of Dripping Springs had been recovered from Barton Creek.
A second death was reported on Monday. In Blanco County, a Wimberley woman was driving on Ranch Road 165 when her car was swept off the road into the Blanco River. The passenger in the vehicle, Judy Farmer, a 74 year-old female from Mesquite, Texas, was later found dead downstream from the submerged vehicle.
In the Dripping Springs death, Chief Scott Collard, of North Hays Fire/Rescue, said Hurlbut’s car was swept off Bell Springs Road into Barton Creek on Friday evening. It was reported that Harlbut made one last phone call to his family, before being cut off and being reported missing.
It was also a heavy night for first responders. Chief Collard reported approximately 30 total weather related distress calls, with two helicopter rescues, and one boat rescue involving people cut off by flood waters on Onion Creek crossings on FM 150. “Three of those rescues were on the FM 150 bridge over Onion Creek, and two additional rescues were made at the double crossings down the road,” Collard said. “My firefighters also made four ground rescues where my men had to walk through the water using their gear and ropes to get to stranded people.”
In a piece of irony, the North Hays Fire station on Sportsplex Road was also flooded. “We were too busy doing our job to worry about the station,” Collard said. “The station just had to take second priority.”
Like many of his men during the emergency, Collard went 36 hours without sleep and had to call his wife to be driven home.
In downtown Dripping Springs on East Mercer Street, staff and diners at Homespun Restaurant had to quickly abandon the building as flood waters quickly brought approximately four to five feet of water into the restaurant and parking lot. Some of the vehicles in the parking lot were flooded before they could be driven out by their owners.
“It was a packed house and there was a waiting list. We had the door open, enjoying the storm. Then all of a sudden the water starting coming in quickly. Within fifteen minutes, the water inside the building was up to your belly button,” Homespun Co-owner Randy Ford said. “Jennifer and my cars were flooded, as were many of the customers cars, and staff.”
Despite it being the second time Homespun has been flooded, Randy Ford expressed a feeling of gratitude. “We’ve had over a 100 people show up to help us clean up and get the place ready for business again.. I just feel blessed to live in such a giving community with so many friends. I’m focused, positive, feel blessed, and we will be open by Mother’s Day,” Randy said.
Nearby Pizza Cave on Hwy 290, was also flooded. Pizza Cave remained closed over the weekend, and it was reported on the Knights of Columbus Council 11695 Facebook page that the restaurant was giving away its food inventory rather than seeing it spoil.
With more rain expected in the week, and the ground so heavily saturated with water, Chief Collard is asking residents to be cautious if heavy rains hit again. “It’s simple. Don’t go through the water,” Collard said.
He also recommended resident monitor the roads using http://www.haysinformed.com, and http://www.haysinformed.org/atx-floods.aspx.