Colorado River in La Grange reaches highest level in over 100 years

La Grange students won't start their school year until next Tuesday - as the city continues to deal with flooding.

Tropical Storm Harvey is turning out to be an historic event for Central Texas.

The Colorado River crested at 54.1 feet on Monday, the third highest level the river has reached in recorded history. The highest crest came in at 56.70 feet in 1869 and the second highest came in at 56.40 feet in 1913.

The river is expected to be back below flood stage by Wednesday afternoon. The National Weather Service defines flood stage as 37 feet. 

Although the river is receding, the devastation remains.

RELATED: BLOG: Harvey’s impact on Central Texas

Water reached the roofs of several homes and flooded several businesses along Highway 71 on the west side of town. 

"It's devastating, it's sad to see our workplaces and businesses -- where we help people -- underwater," one resident said. "I mean it's horrible."

Resident Blythe Vitek said several people brought trailers to help the flooded businesses move things out of their buildings.

"It's good that this community has come together the way that they have and help all these people out," Vitek said.

Kym Parks lives about 150 yards from the Colorado River but she was not part of the mandatory evacuations that forced around 300 residents from their homes the past two days.

"I'm not overly worried," Parks said.

Since 1940, her little yellow home has never flooded.

"But I'm not stupid, we've packed," Parks explained.

Her husband, Nelson, said they know people who have lost their homes.

"It's a sad thing that we have to live through something like this but Mother Nature, she takes her course," he said. 

Ronny Howard walked across the 77 bridge to survey damage closer to town. He saw businesses under water.
He said his home is likely damaged as well but he hasn't seen it because he hasn't been allowed home yet.

"Probably close to 10 to 15 feet of water," Howard said.

Those hoping to take Highway 71 East to La Grange were mistaken Monday.

The Texas Department of Transportation turned drivers away as flooding shut down the freeway.

"It was about a foot, foot and a half deep at that time," said Dutch Walker, who works for Nixon Engineering, a traffic control company contracted by TxDOT. 

Along Business 77, an empty motel halfway underwater.

Down the road at the open Hampton Inn, water service was out. So the guests were forced to get creative, using the swimming pool water to fill their toilets.

Meanwhile, Parks and her husband have been through a disaster before. They survived the Bastrop wildfires and moved to La Grange because of it.

Now, they hope to survive another named Harvey.

Mayor Janet Moerbe witnessed the damage on Tuesday. She said the outpouring of donations to the town has been so great that they are running out of room to store donated items. 

She said despite the damage, nothing can break the spirit of the town.

"I hope those that have been displaced realize that we're out there for them," Moerbe said.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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