Eastland Co. residents look to new spillway as floodwaters rise around homes

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EASTLAND Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The residents of Solid Rock RV park in Eastland spent the early hours of Tuesday morning hauling their campers and homes away from the rapidly encroaching lake shoreline following the heavy Memorial Day rain.

“It was just driving, you couldn’t see outside the windows. I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” said Solid Rock Park Manager Lela Williams.

Lake landowners say the storm came in like a curtain of rain over the water, quickly dropping large amounts in under an hour.

Many home and RV owners are pointing their fingers at the county’s new emergency water spillway completed just last month, saying that the height of the spillway inlet is too high, causing floodwaters to pose a danger before flowing down the release point.

“They were led to believe it would start working about 2 foot over flood, and instead, it’s much higher now. It just started working a little while ago, and as you can see, we were already flooded by then,” said Williams.

While decreased floodwaters are a positive result of the spillway, that’s not the main goal.

“The purpose of this whole project was to help alleviate pressure on the dam,” says Board President for the Eastland County Water Supply District, Steve Gerdes.

Gerdes says it has relieved the pressure and diverted the rising waters away from the earthen dam, which was in danger of collapsing if nothing was done.

“I believe it’s working just as it was designed to,” said Gerdes.

The existing spillway, or morning glory, was built at the top of the lake level, but given its smaller capacity, could not handle all the excess water coming its way.

The new emergency spillway was designed 3 feet taller than the morning glory, a figure that was determined after speaking with downstream landowners and running a hydrology exam of the lake.

“If memory serves, the engineers said this would save 200-plus homes at the lake from flooding,” says Gerdes.

So while there are still floodwaters after particularly heavy rainfall, there are actually less than would have built up if not for the new spillway, which now keeps that same water from flooding those living downstream.

Even so, lakeside residents say they’re fearful for what future forecasts may bring.

“If we get more rain like they’re predicting that we’re gonna get, this whole park will be under water,” said Solid Rock RV resident Norma Price.

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