Flooding Leads to Major Property Damage, Residents Urged to Call San Antonio's 311 Service

May 25, 2013

Cibolo resident Pat O’Brien was out of town overnight and arrived back home to an unwelcome surprise.

The roof over his bedroom had collapsed due to the nonstop rain that pounded the area Saturday. He posted pictures on his Facebook page detailing the flood damage, caused by water that collected on the top of the house during unfortunately-timed roof repairs.

“I guess the good news is that I was out of town last night and it didn't fall on my head,” he wrote.

That scenario may be playing out all over the area as people deal with the aftermath of a day full of heavy rain.

San Antonio city leaders, along with representatives from CPS Energy, the VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority, Emergency Operations staffers and Bexar County, came together Saturday at a joint press conference. They informed the media on the status of electric outages, rescues, and rain totals. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said in the city, people in need of anything, including property damage, should call the 311. People will then be connected to the local American Red Cross.

Regional Red Cross CEO Michael Bennett said this year has been unlike any other for the organization that meets people when disaster strikes. "Just when we think we can catch our breath, along comes another disaster," he said. But volunteers make it happen, he said.

David Medina, who chairs the city council’s public safety committee, thanked first responders for quickly jumping into action to keep people safe.

But the danger isn’t over, he said.

“There are many streams and creeks that are flooded in San Antonio, obviously as a result of the continuing rain throughout the day,” he told the media. “It’s important that the residents avoid these dangerous flood areas, the lakes, and different creek ways.”

Thousands of electric customers had to also deal with no power. CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby said 12,000 people had been without power in the morning. By the afternoon, the number had dwindled to 700. He expected everyone to regain full power by the evening hours.

Beneby reiterated the need for people to stay safe.

“Our facilities are designed to trip themselves and de-energize and be safe when they’re flooded, however I’ll still echo to the public, please be safe. Makes no sense to touch anything,” he said.

County leaders said more than 60 people had to be evacuated from their homes on Espada, River and Quintana Roads. 23 county roads had been closed, but that number fluctuates depending on the water flow. In all, emergency responders rescued 72 flood victims. No one was reported injured, according to county leaders.

Damage assessment will begin Monday, according to county leaders. 

With 40 sensor system, Bexar County leaders say people can check their web site for closed low-water crossings before leaving home. Real-time road closure information in unincorporated Bexar County can be found here.

Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Trevino said the call volume during this incident was on par with the flood of 1998, when more than 11 inches of rain fell. He said it was fortunate this event happened on a weekend and not a workday.

The delegation of San Antonio elected officials and leaders from various organizations repeated several times Saturday afternoon: turn around, don’t drown. Castro said too often, people ignore the warnings and put themselves and rescuers in unnecessary danger.