The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers announced late last week that anyone owning a dwelling damaged or destroyed by recent floodwaters in the flowage easements of Frees Lakeview Subdivision near Sowell Creek Bridge or Buffalo Springs Subdivision near Promontory Park at Proctor Lake will not be allowed to rebuild.
Due to safety concerns, nobody will be allowed to replace, repair or rebuild their structure (habitable or inhabitable such as a storage building) because the areas have experienced flooding several times over the last 20 years. And odds are more floods will occur eventually.
The Corp fear structures in the flowage easements will hamper their ability to fight flooding in the future and feel there is a significant threat of loss of life for anyone in those areas.
Public Relations Officer Judy Marsicano said, during the flood of 1990, those residents were sent a letter stating structures must be kept mobile. She said the areas were never intended to become permanent home sites but over the years some had installed plumbing and tied down trailers, which was never acceptable. But because funding for the Army Corp of Engineers is short, there has never been enough staff to police those situations.
Valerie Early, project manager said, in Frees Lakeview about six or seven structures were damaged or destroyed and in Buffalo Springs approximately 20 habitable structures and 15 to 20 uninhabitable structures were damaged or destroyed.
Early said regarding Frees Lakeview, “I haven’t received any phone calls from that area except for one and they were not damaged.”
But apparently it’s been a different story for those living in Buffalo Springs.
“I have had several phone calls wanting to know when they can move back on,” Early said. “I’m telling them they can’t.”
Early said she spoke to one woman who had purchased her property in February 2007 and she had researched the deed but she researched the time period before the lake was built. Early said the easements were purchased while the lake was being built, but said, “She was real nice about it.”
Since the lake pool has dropped significantly water has recently been released from the dam at a rate of 2,000 cubic feet per second instead of the previous rate of 5,000 cubic feet per second, according to Alton Hurley, temporary site manager. The lake level continues to drop about 5 inches per day and the current elevation of the lake is about 1,172 feet above mean sea level.
The good news is work is progressing on cleaning some campsites at Sowell Creek Park and about 20 of the 61 sites may be ready in just two weeks, according to Hurley.
The Sowell Creek Bridge has reopened but still there are no boat ramps available for launching.
Hurley said the lake would have to drop six more feet just to uncover the ramps and he anticipates that will happen in the next two to three weeks. But then the ramps must dry for a period of about 10 days before anyone can drive on them to prevent more damage.
Copperas Creek Park has no usable campsites and Promontory Park has only one group shelter open with the rest of the park closed.
Hurley said there is not as much debris in the water but there is, “still enough to be dangerous.”
Marsicano said the Corp is in charge of 25 lakes and preliminary damage estimates are approximately $40 million with Proctor Lake in the $2 million range.