Parker County officials were notifying residents along the Brazos River of coming flood waters after the Brazos River Authority opened four gates at Possum Kingdom Lake’s Morris Sheppard Dam early Wednesday morning.
“They opened gates three and four simultaneously within 30 minutes of each other because [the water] was cresting and they had to or there would be damage to the dam, but this is the first time gate four has been opened in 12 years and so this goes from 28,000 cubic feet per second to over 44,000 cubic feet per second,” Parker County Judge Pat Deen said. “This has now become a great potential for devastation in these homes, so we’re working with the utility companies to get the electricity turned off immediately because of the safety factors if people do try to stay.”
The subdivisions and communities that will be affected include residents around Horseshoe Bend, Lazy Bend Estates, Soda Springs Road, River View Road, Thorp Springs Road, Hillcroft Drive, Gilbert Drive, Harris Drive, Driftwood Ranch Trail, East Meadow Lane, North Blue Stem Court, South Old Tin Top Road, Mountain River, Brazos Rock and others around the Brazos River.
Deen said the waters from the dam would be expected to hit the Horseshoe Bend area between 11 p.m. Wednesday through 5 a.m. Thursday.
According to the Brazos River Authority, the fourth gate at the Morris Sheppard Dam was opened at 5:50 a.m. Wednesday. Two were closed back down at 10:20 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, bringing the number of gates down to two for a total release of 18,300 cubic feet per second.
“A rain-bomb of more than five inches fell directly on Possum Kingdom Lake between 11 p.m. Tuesday and 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. The very heavy rainfall on the lake and the local runoff in the immediate vicinity caused the lake level to rapidly rise toward the top of the flood gates and emergency spillway — elevation 1,000 feet above mean sea level,” according to the BRA’s Facebook page. “This rapid rise in lake level required the need to significantly increase the release rate from Morris Sheppard Dam in a short amount of time to protect the integrity of the dam.”
Deen signed a disaster declaration Wednesday to allow Parker County to qualify for state resources during this situation. Deen said they are also aware of the issue of evacuating people along the Brazos River amid the COVID-19 situation.
“Another factor is we’re dealing with the coronavirus and what’s going on there, promoting separation. Make no mistake about this, we will do everything we can to get those people out of harm's way and regardless of the separation, do whatever it takes for our people to do that,” Deen said. “Obviously there could be some compromising on separation, but we’re going to do everything we can. We can’t make them leave, but we’re going to do what we can to encourage it and the electricity will be turned off as a safety measure with the amount of water that’s coming.”
The declaration will continue for no more than seven days unless extended by action of the Parker County commissioners court.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said they were placing barricades up Wednesday morning and are also continuing to monitor other roadways in the county that are not along the Brazos.
“Because of local flooding the last couple of days, we’ve had water over the roads, so we’ve been monitoring all of those places so we can make sure they are as safe as they can be,” Walden said. “These are county roads, country roads, and as such we have numerous low water crossings scattered throughout my precinct and throughout the county.”