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Sawyer Lane flooding has worsened since Hurricane Harvey

Flooding along Sawyer Lane
Posted at 5:17 PM, Jun 02, 2020

ARANSAS COUNTY, Texas — Parts of Aransas County saw 8-to-9 inches of rain Monday as strong storms blew through the Coastal Bend, flooding several yards -- something which residents say is getting worse.

Flood waters had subsided on Sawyer Lane on Tuesday, but 24 hours earlier it was a completely different picture, and residents are worried about what will happen the next time it rains.

“If we have any tropical depressions or storms this year, it’s going to be bad for a lot of people here,” resident Joe Kirchens said.

KRIS 6 News first met Kirchens in 2018. Then, he said that ditches not re-dug after Hurricane Harvey exacerbated his neighborhood’s flood problems. In the last 20 months, he said, things have gotten worse.

“Now it just flows over the driveways and it inundates the end of the property," he said. "Then the state dug along the highway, and they pointed it into our backyards.”

Since then, one side of Sawyer Lane was re-dredged, but water from TX-35 and nearby businesses flows down the road on its way to the bay, just as it did with Monday’s rains.

“They left the same size culverts, but they just dug the ditch deeper so they could divert that water down our road,” Kirchens said.

According to the county, help is on the way.

“We’ve done work on one side of Sawyer, we’ll do work on the other side of Sawyer, Mundine, A-1 Hill and all those streets,” said Aransas Co. Engineer David Reid.

Reid said part of the problem is elevation. Parts of Sawyer Lane, including Kirchens’ home, is less than 15 feet above sea level. The county has created a ditch from FM 1069 to the bay; the next step is to install a large culvert.

“We do have money earmarked for that in the form of grants,” Reid said. “We should get contracts for that in the next few weeks.”

Construction will take another few years. The county is also re-digging ditches and installing wider pipes. That could take as long as seven years, but Kirchens said he can’t wait that long.

“What, do we need to build a dam to stop it, so the highway to stay flooded? It’s not right to put it open us,” said Kirchens.

Kirchens says he’d be willing to give us some of his easement if the county dug a wider ditch, the catch is all of his neighbors have to agree as well.

The Texas General Land Office recently awarded Aransas Co. a $43 million dollar disaster recovery grant to improve infrastructure.