Tex. First Responders Rescue 27 from Flash Flood
San Antonio Express-News
Aug. 12—Trapped by a sudden early morning flood surge on the Nueces River north of Uvalde, 27 people were rescued Sunday from around the Chalk Bluff River Resort and Park by first responders who came from as far away as San Antonio.
"The river was 200 yards wide and just roaring. Normally, it's 40 feet wide and a couple of feet deep," said Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, 56, who rushed to the scene early Sunday when the emergency call went out.
"They rescued some by helicopter and others by boat. The last family they got out was in the back of a pickup truck in the middle of the river," added the mayor, who said about a half-dozen out-of-town fire departments responded.
Other campers were plucked from trees or car roofs by the half-dozen rescue helicopters from the U.S. Border Patrol, Department of Public Safety, San Antonio Police Department and other agencies.
"I talked to one family at the civic center afterward. They were all pretty much in a mild state of shock. They were scared but glad to be back on dry land," he added.
In the aftermath of the rescues, which ended about 1 p.m., air support helicopters did a secondary sweep of the river looking for anyone who had been swept downstream and needed assistance.
Despite weather forecasts predicting only an inch or two of rain overnight, an estimated 10-11 inches fell north of Uvalde. It caused the Nueces River to rise to 14 feet, which is moderate flood stage, according to the National Weather Service, which has a river gauge north of the resort.
"It caused a big flood wave on the Nueces that went through Chalk Bluff about 8:30 a.m. It crested and is now back down to bank full," said meteorologist Cory Van Pelt at the NWS station in New Braunfels.
Van Pelt said he was unaware of any other serious flooding in the area.
The Chalk Bluff River Resort and Park and the adjacent Country Boys Ranch are about 15 miles north of Uvalde on Texas 55.
It was unclear where the rescued campers had been staying when the flood hit. Calls to both campgrounds were not returned Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday afternoon, Chalk Bluff posted to Facebook that nobody at the park was in danger or needed rescuing, and that people in trouble had been swept from upriver.
On its website, the resort advertises RV sites, furnished cabins, tent campsites and numerous activities for guests and day visitors, including tubing, kayaking and swimming.
The flooding also caused the closure of Texas 55 for several hours Sunday afternoon.
Mayor McLaughlin said flash floods on the Nueces are not uncommon, but rarely catch people completely by surprise.
"It happens every couple of years, but usually you get more notice," he said.
"We're ecstatic and we're blessed. From everything we know, there were no deaths, only one minor injury and everyone is accounted for. We're thankful for all the agencies and groups that came to help," he added.
While the rains had ceased by early afternoon, the National Weather Service said more precipitation is likely on the way for the Uvalde area.
"Through the rest of the day, we should have more rain south of that area," Van Pelt said.