7-inch rain triggers flooding
A line of heavy thunderstorms stalled in South Milam County overnight Friday, bringing a drenching rainfall of between 5 and 7 inches to a previously parched Rockdale area and causing widespread flooding.
Rockdale, Gause and Thorndale Volunteer Fire Departments all performed high-water rescues and the Milam County Sheriff’s Department and DPS Troopers were called to numerous stranded motorists.
Many roads were closed, including US 79 in the Gause area for about two hours. The town of Gause received upwards of 7.5 inches of rain, and water was reported inside several structures including Coats Grocery and the fire station.
Thorndale also got more than 7 inches and there was substantial f looding throughout the Brushy Creek and San Gabriel River bottomlands.
In Rockdale, the U. S. Weather Service rain gauge at KRXT-FM recorded 5.14 inches and other readings throughout town showed 5.5 inches and above.
That’s more rain overnight Friday than fell in six months (June through November) of 2011 combined.
RESCUE—Most dramatic of the high water rescues came at 7:15 a.m. Saturday when Rockdale volunteer firefighters were summoned to FM 908 at flooded Brushy Creek northwest of town.
Ward Roddam, RVFD volunteer said a College Station woman, en route to Brady to visit her 96-year-old mother, had become trapped in her SUV between two quickly rising areas of water.
“She had gotten through the first one, decided she couldn’t make it through the second and turned around, but by that time the water had risen so much it was unsafe to go back,” Roddam said.
Roddam said the woman was able to drive to a still-dry high point on the roadway and call for help.
Firef ighters Brady Nelson Jr. and Charles Alford deployed in a boat from the Rockdale side of the flood and made their way toward the woman through the treacherous waters.
Jeremy Hoskins, a Milam County Precinct 4 employee, brought a maintainer through the high waters from the Thorndale side and was able to reach the trapped woman first.
Hoskins brought the woman, and her belongings, safely through the flood to dry ground on the Thorndale side.
MORE DRAMA—Rockdale volunteers also removed a woman from a vehicle stranded in high water at the San Jacinto- Post Oak intersection in west Rockdale.
Gause firefighters and the Milam County Sheriff’s Department answered numerous stranded motorist calls during the height of the storm.
Two persons reported they were trapped in waist-deep water at US 79 and FM 2095 in Gause, Chief Deputy Chris White said. One was able to wade to safety while Gause firefighters extricated the other.
Eight travelers were stranded in Gause because of the flooded highway and stalled engines. They spent the night in the Gause school gym.
Thorndale volunteers extricated the driver from a vehicle stuck on flooded CR 446A.
Water was also over US 79 at several locations in and near Thorndale and flooding damaged FM 486 so severely a TxDOT crew was dispatched to make repairs Saturday morning.
DPS state troopers also responded to several stranded motorist calls.
No injuries were reported as a result of the flooding.
STREETS—For the second time in 11 days there was flooding in Rockdale. (A 3.4-inch rainfall overnight Jan. 24 sent Ham Branch out of its banks.)
There was flooding at the usual locations—the intersections of Childress, Meadow and Calhoun at US 79 and the low water crossing on East Belton.
Low-lying streets, including Meadow and San Jacinto, also had some flooding.
The storm also brought small hail and high winds with several trees, already stressed because of the drought, reported down.
Rockdale has recorded 11 inches of precipitation in the first six weeks of 2012, a total not reached in 2011 until mid-November.