FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Fort Worth city officials and local residents dedicated a new storm drainage system Thursday at the site of flooding tragedy. Roadways at the intersection of Butler and McClure were raised 7-feet and some new creek channels were dug…following a series of incidents and the tragic loss of lives.
On April 30, 2004, his Roslind Guerrero and her two sons were swept away when her car was picked up by floodwaters. All three died.
“They were coming to pick me up. It was my birthday,” recalled Allen Abrego, Guerrero’s boyfriend and the two boys’ father. “It took a while, but I overcame the pain and sorrow,” Abrego told CBS 11 News.
Neighbor Jose Morales lived here then… and now.
“Water over there, water over there….too much water,” he recalled Thursday. In his best English, Jose talks about the day three lives were lost. “Remember, remember the big accident,” he said adding, “And the mama and the babies—-no more.”
A few weeks later, another driver barely escaped when his car was caught in a flood. That prompted the city to add a stormwater fee in 2006, dedicated to solving flooding issues. Today it formally dedicated the new intersection and is awaiting its first serious rainfall test.
The city’s assistant director of storm water systems cautioned Thursday’s dedication solves only some of the city’s flooding runoff issues.
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“There are problems like this all over the city, and we’ll continue to be doing what we can to try and prevent these sorts of tragedies from happening again,” Greg Simmons told the group.
The councilman for the district, Joel Burns, cautioned such fixes are expensive–but necessary.
“We struggle every day to best utilize the tax dollars that we have,” Burns said adding, “But I will tell you dollars like this that are invested in projects like this that will save future lives certainly should be a priority.”
Also on hand was Rich DeOtte, who designed the flood control project.
“The biggest challenge was the original intersection—Butler and McClure—was built over a creek back a long time before people were really concerned about drainage.”
DeOtte and the team re-channeled the creek, then created an overflow runoff area with five huge drains that can handle 3,000 cubic feet of water a second. The channels then merge again downstream.
“This area is very much safer than it was before,” DeOtte concluded.
The city also created a plaque in memory of Allen Abrego’s loved ones, which he saw for the first time today. He says it all helps to ease his pain.
“Yes, it’s very satisfying. I don’t have to worry about another family going through the same thing,” he said.