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Flooding shuts down Lake Waco parks and campsites indefinitely

Autumn Jones

Recent flooding has left many roads closed and properties destroyed in Waco and surrounding cities.

After several days of heavy rain in central Texas, cities in and around McLennan county are reckoning with the damage that heavy flooding has caused.

As of today, floodwaters from the north Bosque river have caused Lake Waco to rise a little over 20 feet above normal. The Army Corps of Engineers have closed the majority of Lake Waco’s parks due to facilities being underwater and are encouraging visitors not to come due to the rapidly rising lake levels.

Michael Champagne: “We currently have about 3,000 cubic feet per second of water that's still coming into the lake. That's from the north Bosque, middle Bosque and Hog Creek. So those are our main tributaries here. So the lake is still going up a little bit, but it's slowed down a lot since this past weekend.”

Michael Champagne, the manager for Lake Waco says that even though the flood has slowed, the work it will take to fully restore the parks, campgrounds and roads will last a while.

Michael Champagne: “A lot of folks don’t understand. They see the park and there’s no water on it and expect that it’s going to be open. It’s a longer process than just getting the water down.”

Champagne says in the coming days the Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District will let him know when Lake Waco can begin releasing some of the water. They’ve been holding back on releasing to help aid the floods happening in south Texas.

Michael Champagne: “If we start releasing at a decent rate, we would still probably take several weeks to get back to normal. And then once we get back to normal, even then, any roads that have gone underwater, we have to let them dry out. That road base underneath gets saturated, roads become unstable, and then anybody driving on it and any weight on it will damage the roads, which are very expensive to fix.”  

Despite the damages, Champagne says the Waco dam and lake did their jobs.

Michael Champagne: “The dam did what it is supposed to do, it’s functioning as it's designed. The lake is functioning like it's designed. It’s just going to be a process to get the parks back open and to get people out there to recreate again.”

And as far as flood safety tips go, Champagne has just one.

Michael Champagne: “Turn around, don't drown. If you see water over the road, you shouldn’t keep driving.”