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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With Tropical Storm Bill having moved ashore and set a course that will move up and through North Texas, officials in the City of Dallas are planning ahead.
With a Flash Flood Watch in effect for much of Texas, and a Tornado Watch issued for counties south of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, officials aren’t taking any chances.
During a joint press conference with City of Dallas Emergency Management and Trinity Watershed Management, officials stressed that while the latest models show North Texas possibly getting inches and inches of rain… Dallas is prepared.
Rocky Vaz, the director of Emergency management at City of Dallas, explained, “Six to eight inches is predicted to fall in the next 24 to 30 hours.” But past experience has led to different flooding strategies. “The last couple of days we have looked at our plans, identified low-lying areas that are flood prone areas that we know, areas that flooded during the May 20 event,” he said. “We have gone through the plans, gone through possible evacuations, evacuation routes, shelter setups if we need to – all that is in place.”
Vaz said that one of the worst hit areas last month was near the Eagle Ford Sump. “What happened last time we got about five inches of rain in two hours and that really did flood the sumps and flooded Loop 12, [and the] Singleton area.”
This time the city is ratcheting up pumping. Officials said about 15 pumps had been used since Tuesday morning. Vaz said, “We are pumping the water off the sumps into the Trinity River, which has got plenty of room.”
The sump stations carry water from streets and through the levees into the flood-way. Some 4,000,000 gallons of water pass through six stations across the city.
There are no guarantees when it comes to weather, but as it stands officials in the City of Dallas do not believe the flooding this month will be anywhere near what happened last month. “We cannot say for certain that it will not flood. But based on the rain projections, based on the level of water that’s in the sump, based on the pumping that’s ongoing right now – which will go on until the rain falls and continue while the rain falls – we do not expect that area [near near the Eagle Ford Sump] to flood again.”
It was just a few days ago when the City opened more than a dozen streets that were still closed because of high water. At the height of the May flooding there were between 20 and 25 streets that were shutdown. Vaz said closures and pumping limited damage. “The flooding was at the street level, there were no businesses or homes that flooded.”
Officials said it isn’t the expected rain late Tuesday, Wednesday and possibly Thursday that concerns them. “It takes a day or two after the rain event ends for the lakes to start flowing over the banks or there are more controlled [water] releases,” Vaz explained. “But depending on how much rain we get [and] when Lake Lewisville and Grapevine Lake start releasing water, we expect the area will flood again.”
Officials said this time the City is ready, with street crews and flood control crews working 24 hours a day. With high water not expected to impact the City for several hours, the Emergency Operations Center will not open until 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Sarah Standifer, the interim Trinity Watershed Management director, said Dallas residents can help with flood control. “We have flood watch across the city. Anytime a citizen sees water in their creeks, or a fallen tree, or limb or something that alarms them, we’d ask that they call 311 and that will cue it up and get us out on site faster.”
Emergency Management officials said all city employees are on call and can be on the streets within an hour. They also said that in anticipation of high call volumes, 311 staffing will be adjusted as needed.
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