As the rains continue, city officials are urging motorists to exercise caution. Rainfall totals have impacted road conditions and caused some roads to be closed temporarily.
“If you see water covering the roadway and you are not sure of how deep it is, do not drive through it. Now, most of the roads here in Waxahachie remain passable. We do have some roads as you go toward the Citizens Convenience Station (on Lions Park Road) that have already closed because there was high water on it yesterday [Wednesday],” Waxahachie Assistant Fire Chief Randall Potter said. “The main thing is if it is standing water and you are not sure how deep it is, don’t go through it. It is better safe than sorry. If you don’t have to be out in it don’t.”
According to the National Weather Service’s website, there is a 90-percent chance of precipitation Friday with rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch. Rain is anticipated to pick up again on Tuesday.
Jamie Gudmesda, National Weather Service meteorologist, reported rainfall totals from Tuesday through midnight Thursday to be 3.7 inches at Mid-Way Regional Airport in Midlothian. Gudmesda expects heavy rainfall to end on Saturday.
Precinct 3 County Commissioner Paul Perry reported several roads had been impacted because of the high water.
“We have a number of roads that were closed intermittently in Maypearl. Bee Creek Road would be one that I would think is still underwater. The lower end of Bee Creek is closed, and Bee Creek Bridge is closed for the duration of the rain event,” Perry said. “We have got ongoing bridge issues on Chambers Drive. We have managed to keep a large culvert complex open and monitoring it all through the night and through the morning.”
Perry explained it is unknown where the water is going to undermine earthen structures on the Chambers Drive bridge. Crews have to reinforce that structure with concrete and some other mixes. They are working with the county engineer’s office to keep it stabilized.
Other roads in precinct three were impacted on Bentley Road, Morgan Road, and Lo Water Road. Residents are advised to exercise caution as they approach all bridges and low water crossings.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson posted on his official Facebook page that the current road closures include JC Spence Road. Moseley Road and Dunkerley Road have reopened. He shared Perry’s thoughts about the weather conditions and stressed to “Please use extreme caution on all roadways," he added.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Kyle Butler stated Stephenson Road and the north end of V.V. Jones Road between State Highway 67 and County Road 506 are flooded. Drivers traveling on the south end of Westmoreland Road are advised to exercise caution with three to four inches of water coming over the roadway. A road and bridge crew is working to make repairs to Bryson south of Farm-to-Market Road 1387.
Butler noted that crews had to work to unstop some culverts on roads that were clogged with debris. He shared that what makes road conditions worse all at once is the large volume of rain that comes all at once, which is what causes issues for everybody.
According to the Ellis County website, in Precinct 1 a portion of FM 878 will be closed due to the road washing away for the next few days. Also, the closure of FM 878 at southbound Frontage road where FM 878 ties into Wyatt Street can be expected. The north and southbound frontage roads in Palmer and FM 878 from the intersection southbound frontage road where it ties into Wyatt Street is closed. Lakecrest Drive off of FM 813 and the 1600 block of Gibson and Broadhead Road, as well as Wickliff Road between FM 660 and 780, is closed.
Waxahachie City Engineer James Gaertner took a survey of the city to gauge the impact the rain event had on the community.
“The majority of the places that I went to the majority of the houses were lower than the street. Some of the places the grading around the house directed water towards the house and not away from it. We (talked) to the residents who called the city about what they could do about getting the water away from their house. Also looked at what the city could do along the street right of way.”
The streets that Gaertner looked at included Ross, Kaufman, Jefferson and U.S. Highway 77 and John Arden Drive.
He is going to make a report to the city council and the public works department, which will include recommendations on improvements to drainage. Steps that are being taken now are to clean out culverts.
The Department of Homeland Security website advises motorists,
• Don’t drive through high water areas turn around instead.
• Avoid walking or driving through flooded waters.
• Do not drive over bridges that are over fast-moving floodwaters.
• Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
• If there is a chance of flash flooding move immediately to higher ground.
• If floodwaters rise around your car, but the water is not moving abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
• Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall.
The National Weather Service Reports fatalities in flooding events for 2016 was 126 deaths, had a 10-year average of 91 deaths, and a 30-year average of 84 deaths.
Red Fire Chief Eric Thompson, who has a specialized team for high water rescues, reported no water rescue calls. He shared that high waters pose risks not only to motorists but also to first responders.
“Be aware and pay attention. If you think that it could be hazardous don’t risk it,” Thompson said. “Not only it is a risk to the motorists themselves, but it is a risk to our firefighters. Just turn around and don’t drown.”