Dallas braces for possible flash flooding

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on March 19, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 19 at 6:35 PM

DALLAS — Keeping you safe from flood waters is a priority for some Dallas workers.

They're watching the entire city, but keeping a particularly close eye on the sections that are prone to flooding.

At flood control headquarters at the Baker Pump Station on Irving Boulevard next to the Trinity River levee, they will have a long night Monday and a long day on Tuesday.

This is where the city's Watershed Management Department relies on radar, satellite, and a private weather service to keep up to date on the approaching storm.

The office tracks a lot of monitors that follow when the river is rising and triggers alarms if a pump station breaks down. Workers are also watching areas where there's been flash flooding in such storms before.

As winds blew in ahead of the storm, the first damage fell upon the La Bajada neighborhood in West Dallas. A tree snapped in a resident's yard and fell onto the car port of the home next door.

Raymond Salinas, President of the La Bajada Neighborhood Association, snapped into action and started cutting to help out the resident.

But after the wind, what worries Salinas is the water. "We're always concerned when it rains a lot that it might flood, but with these three days — and if it rains a lot and we get a lot of rainfall  — our main concern is if the pumps give out, we're really going to be flooded again," he said.

This neighborhood that's nestled next to the west levee of the Trinity River flooded in 2006 and again in 2009 when the aging pumps that push runoff into the river couldn't keep up.

The city is building a new pump station, but it won't be ready until later this year, so the city monitors this area closely.

"We're going to be watching elevations at our pump stations making sure that our pump stations are operating appropriately," said Kelly High, director of the Trinity Watershed Management Department. "We'll be monitoring river levels; we'll be monitoring the levees so we really focus around our levees and pump stations for these events."

But the city also is wary of the area east of Central Expressway and south of Mockingbird to Baylor University Medical Center. There was flooding here in 2006 because of old underground pipes that couldn't drain fast enough to the river following a sustained heavy rain over several hours.

It could be a long night for parts of Dallas prone to flash flooding.

When asked if he would get much sleep on Monday night, Salinas didn't sound hopeful.  "I'm going to try."

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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