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Fort Worth has 280 sites that are at risk of flooding. Why most have no flood gauges

Fort Worth Star-Telegram logoFort Worth Star-Telegram 9/12/2018 By Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Sept. 12--FORT WORTH -- The culvert where a young mother and her daughter died Saturday had never flooded but the city has identified 280 other locations across Fort Worth as being at risk to rising waters.

Yet only 52 of those sites have flood gauges.

As the city looks to address flooding concerns in the wake of Saturday's flash floods, city officials said there is not enough money for real-time monitoring of the sites.

Instead, the city will look at improving technology to send public messages about flood risks, said Greg Simmons, manager of the city's stormwater management program. A program being tested can give real-time water levels, which could provide residents with flood information, Simmons said. It will likely be available in a desktop version within a year.

Eventually, the city would like to partner with apps like Waze to provide real-time flood information to motorists but Simmons said that is likely several years off.

Jessica Romero, 18, and her 2-year-old daughter, Llaylanni, died after their vehicle stalled on the Loop 820 service road and was swept into a culvert. The area, near Wilbarger Street, had not history of flooding previously. It will likely get flashers or signs to warn of a potential flood risk.

The spot a half-mile to the northeast on South Cravens Road, where 69-year-old Eddy Volpp of Arlington died after driving into water, might need a bridge to eliminate the risk, Simmons said.

Stormwater management has about $10 million annually to deal with the backlog of stormwater projects across the city. Last year, the city estimated that fixing all the city's drainage issues could top $1 billion.

A rainfall intensity map developed by the city put a bull's-eye on southeast Fort Worth for the heaviest rainfall on Saturday. The study estimated 5 to 5.4 inches fell just west of Loop 820 and then drained toward Lake Arlington.

The National Weather Service said Monday that a good chunk of that rain fell in two to three hours on Saturday.

Numerous Fort Worth locations flooded Saturday, including Linwood, West 7th, Magnolia and Randol Mill near Cooks Lane.

In several of those locations, there are concerns about development aggravating flooding. In the Randol Mill area, developers had not finished building a retention area when the flooding occurred, Simmons said. There is hope that development will have flood retention work completed in the next several days.

But residents who live along Randol Mill spoke to the City Council Tuesday night and, said retention ponds and other mitigation efforts aren't working in the Randol Mill area.

Stormwater management workers look at new development to ensure it doesn't add to the flood problem but Simmons said they had generally focused on projects that were at least an acre in size.

In light of Saturday's events, Simmons said they may need to review all new development in flood-prone parts of the city.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @ fwhanna

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