Lake Travis rises to historic levels, causes flooding Volente hit hard, Lake Austin homeowners watchful

The water flowing over the Low Water Crossing Road bridge appears more like a blustery sea than a quiet arm of the Colorado River Oct. 18. LESLEE BASSMAN

By LESLEE BASSMAN, Four Points News

Heavy rains last week produced flooding which affected businesses and homes on both Lake Travis and Lake Austin.

Shack 512

Waterfront restaurant Shack 512, 8714 Lime Creek Rd., was underwater up to its roofline. It is co-owned by Four Points residents Ashley and Ross Goolsby, along with General Manager Jon Silva, who was at the eatery Thursday, Oct. 18 trying to salvage furniture.

Silva said the water level at the restaurant rose about 12 feet during the last six weeks. He said when he awoke on Oct. 16, the water had risen four-and-a-half feet overnight. That’s when he started moving out equipment and furniture from the building to higher ground, renting a U-Haul truck to hold and then transport the materials to a storage facility. Two days later, only the restaurant’s roofline was visible out of the water.

“We got most of the stuff out,” Silva said. “There’s a lot of people who didn’t have the time that we had. They didn’t have a day to get prepared for it. Obviously, it is not ideal. It’s not the worst.

Some things are assembled in kitchens—you can’t get them out. Some things are built as part of the building—you can’t get those out, obviously the ceiling.”

He said the restaurant’s main coolers may be lost but the Shack 512 owners as well as the owners of the marina from whom he leases the restaurant space are insured.

“It isn’t going to be a total loss as long as we don’t lose the ceiling and things of that nature,” Silva said.

The restaurant anticipated closing for daylight savings time on Oct. 31 and planned to reopen in the spring, he said.

“Instead of just sitting idly by for the next four months, we are going to have to actively start working on the building,” Silva said. “There will be a massive cleanup. I can’t imagine the amount of stuff that is going to have to get thrown away.”

Volente Beach Resort & Waterpark

Glenlake residents Kara and Adam Weedman are working to salvage as much as they can from their family-friendly waterpark on Lake Travis. They own Volente Beach Resort & Waterpark at 15107 FM 2769.

As of late last week, a portion of the park’s rides, beach, patios, grounds and pavilions were underwater, with a rebuilt stage and tiki bar destroyed because of the flooding, Kara Weedman said. Some of the park’s pumps and equipment may be damaged but, since a majority of the rides were engulfed by water for days, it is unknown how much repair will be needed, she said.

Last week, Lake Travis kept rising as a result of the Llano flooding which sent huge amounts of water through the Highland Lakes, ending up in Lake Travis. (See related story on page 1.)

The Weedmans moved their boat dock in some 10 days ago and then early last week, around Oct. 16, “when (the water) was really coming downstream, when they had the major floods — within two hours, you started to see the beach disappear,” Kara said.

The staff had emptied out the equipment in the facility’s pool bar on Oct. 17. The waterpark’s season officially ended Sept. 30 and is not slated to reopen until the spring. Weekman said the waterpark is insured.

Beachside Billy’s

The Weedmans saw a way to help the Volente community last week while residents and workers were moving valuables to higher ground and dealing with road closures, for several days only Lime Creek Road was open while RM 2769 and Bullick Hollow Road were closed.

The Weedmans opened up the doors of the onsite restaurant, Beachside Billy’s, for local diners to enjoy a meal at half-price, relax and take a break from packing up their belongings. The restaurant is not normally open during the week.

Volentians could not get out of the community easily because a main road closure. Additionally so many people were working non-stop at the marinas, Weedman said. They called in one of their chefs and started making burgers and pizzas.

“We all just stepped in. (The restaurant) was full and they were all so grateful. They just had nowhere to go,” she said.

Volente comes together

The Village of Volente was “very close to a historic high as far as the water coming up,” said Volente Mayor Ken Beck.

“Because we had the warning, we heard about the floods on the Llano River, we knew that the water was going to be rising on Lake Travis, everybody started focusing on either adjusting their docks and bringing their docks up or moving furniture,” Beck said. Residents and business owners worked 24 – 38 hours straight to take precautions for flooding.

“In the worst cases, there were some people who knew their buildings were going to be flooded and people started rallying around them,” Beck said. “It just gave us the reason to remember we are a close knit community.”

The community used social media to keep informed of local conditions and to help each other with equipment or lending extra help in many ways.

VIP Marina owner Linda Carter and her sons provided help along with others.

Bill Gauspohl, general manager at AC VIP Marina in Volente, 16107 FM 2769, said he and his crew worked nonstop since the flooding began.

“For a while we were averaging (moving docks) a couple of feet per hour and it’s slowed down just a little bit but we have to keep the marina coming up so that nothing breaks,” he said on Oct. 18.

Highland Lakes Marina Manager Nanette Martin was frantically packing up her belongings to evacuate her lakeside home and the Volente business at 16120 Wharf Cove. She said the marina was already taken care of as best as possible.

“This is the second time I’ve seen [the water so high] since I’ve been here since 2004,” Martin said. “And when 2007 came, the water came all the way to my rock bed.” This time she expected the flood waters to go into her house.

Residents affected along Lake Austin

Piper Labaj and her family have lived waterfront for two decades on the Lake Austin, near Fritz Hughes Park and Mansfield Dam in Four Points. The lake level was a good six feet above her home’s dock Oct. 18 and she said she was concerned about the water rising.

“In 2001, we had this (flooding) and it was up four more feet,” Labaj said. “(Last week), as soon as the (Lower Colorado River Authority) lifted the first flood gate open, it started to rise. So we just prepare, go to the store and pray for all of your friends down the way. We’re usually fine so you just start hoping and praying and being there for others in case they need something.”

Kim Waters, who lives waterfront to Lake Austin at the bottom of Flat Top Ranch Road in Steiner, also noticed a rise in the lake level immediately after the LCRA opened the first floodgate earlier last week. On Thursday, she estimated the water level at her home was up about 6.5 feet and covered the entire bottom level of her two-story boat dock.

LCRA opened four floodgates last week and announced they could open up to four more gates if needed through the weekend. The most floodgates opened at Mansfield at one time is six.

“I’ve heard an estimate of eight feet (lake level rise) if they open four more gates,” Waters said. At eight feet, it would go up above the second story on our dock and wipe out all of the electrical for our boat lifts.”

Waters said she and her husband, Dr. James Waters, orthodontist, have already incurred electrical damage to the dock and lost a lake pump due to water covering the structure. Two years ago, she said the lake levels rose similarly and the flood damage then cost the family $5,000.

The issue is also one of safety for residents along the lake.

“(Mid last week), one of the wooden docks actually broke free and was coming down with a boat attached to it,” Waters said. “It barely missed our neighbor’s dock up the way. They caught it. It’s lodged up here somewhere and they tied it off.”

Although her boat is tied to the dock at her home, Waters said she would have preferred to move it to higher ground. She said authorities provided short notice about the rapidly rising waters following the floodgate openings.

“Had we had more than two hours notice before they opened those floodgates, we could have all gotten our boats completely out of the river,” Waters said. “We would not have the worry of having them tied off and hope they hold and hope they don’t break free and bump into somebody else’s property and cause damage.”.


On Oct. 18, Steiner Ranch resident Kim Waters surveys the damage done to the lower level of her boat dock deck on Lake Austin following recent flooding. LESLEE BASSMAN

Four Points resident Piper Labaj watched the water rise at her home on Lake Austin near Mansfield Dam on Oct. 18. LESLEE BASSMAN

Flood waters are climbing up the slide at Volente Beach Oct. 18. LESLEE BASSMAN