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Travis County Issues Disaster Declaration As Austin Extends Waterway Ban

The LCRA says it likely won't open a record-setting eight floodgates at the Mansfield Dam on Thursday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
The LCRA says it likely won't open a record-setting eight floodgates at the Mansfield Dam on Thursday.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt issued a local disaster declaration Thursday after flooding damaged properties along Highland Lakes.

In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott seeking state assistance, Eckhardt said "numerous homes around Lake Travis have flooded or are expected to flood" and that the county was expected to "incur significant costs associated with debris removal and road repair once the water begins to recede."

The governor had already issued a state of emergency in 18 counties, including Travis.

After this week's historic flooding in the Hill Country, the Lower Colorado River Authority opened floodgates at Mansfield Dam to move water downstream from Lake Travis, which was 142 percent full by late afternoon Thursday. The lake is full at 702 feet. LCRA is projecting it will rise to between 705 and 710 feet by Friday.

The LCRA said it could open four additional floodgates – setting a record – though it's not clear when.

RELATED | Here's What To Expect When Eight Floodgates Open On The Mansfield Dam

In Austin, the city extended its ban on recreation in waterways – including Lake Austin, Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis – until next week. Barton Springs Pool, Barton Creek Greenbelt, and the Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake remain closed.

A flash flood watch is in effect in much of Central and South Central Texas until Friday morning. 

Rains have all but wiped out drought conditions across Texas, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The report found only 4 percent of Texas is experiencing drought, mostly in West Texas and the Panhandle. A week ago, almost 12 percent of the state was experiencing drought.

This is a developing story.

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Andrew Weber is a freelance reporter and associate editor for KUT News. A graduate of St. Edward's University with a degree in English, Andrew has previously interned with The Texas Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman and KOOP Radio.