Texas Rowing Center Survives The Flood

This past Wednesday morning, the flood gates just west of Redbud Trail at Tom Miller dam were opened, unleashing a surge of flood waters from Lake Austin into Lady Bird Lake. It was enough water to almost wipe out one of Austin’s most loved local businesses: Texas Rowing Center.

I didn’t hear about the damage until today when photos were posted on TRC’s Facebook page.  Along with the photos was an inspiring story about an organization rallying together.  Story after the jump.


[Originally posted on Facebook]

“Dear TRC Members and Friends:

Well, you may have heard that we had some damage at TRC early on Wednesday morning when all five gates at Tom Miller dam were unexpectedly opened to release flood waters accumulating around Lake Austin. Alvin called me at 6:15 AM to let me know that the club had been turned upside down by… flooding that reached eight feet high in places. Many boats were severely damaged, oars racks were overturned, office equipment was destroyed, the kayak rack was blocking the trail, canoes were in the trees (hard to imagine), and mud settled everywhere. Any call from Alvin before 7:00 AM is usually bad news, but this was a particularly grim report.

The photos here show just how devastating the damage was. Thanks to email, these photos have been distributed far and wide making TRC a poster child for Tropical Storm Hermine and its destruction (although many people suffered much greater losses than us).

But amid all of the mess, a pretty remarkable thing happened…. Alvin made a few calls to staff and people started to show up. The US Paralympic Team that has been training with us this week showed up to start removing debris from the boathouse. Then the TRC members started to show up. One mom from the juniors team showed up with coffee and food for everyone…. Around 5:00 PM, the juniors team and their parents showed up to assist with the cleanup. A few of the coaches demonstrated their trenching skills by installing an aqueduct system to drain flooded areas behind the boathouses – it actually worked! The day ended with Phil and I delivering a dozen broken boats by trailer to Clay Felker to begin the repair process. Phil had been working for 14 hours straight. By nightfall, TRC had been restored to operating condition. In fact, other than missing boats, there is little evidence of the catastrophe.

All told, over 200 people showed up at TRC on Wednesday alone to help shovel mud, sift through the debris, and clean boats!

The current boat ban for Lady Bird Lake is scheduled to end tomorrow at noon. Unless the boat ban is extended, TRC will open for all scheduled programs, events, and rentals at that time. We will be tight for equipment during the next few weeks while the repairs are being done, but we will work hard to minimize any inconvenience. Somers and I will be repairing boats at TRC this weekend. Many people have asked how they can help with the boat situation, so we have a plan for turning this disaster into new racing shells…..

Beginning Friday, we will run the 2010 Tropical Storm Special, which includes six months of membership (with lessons) for $199. All proceeds from the Special will be earmarked for boat repairs or for new boats.

As with all specials, if you have current membership, you can extend your current membership six months by purchasing the Special. Alvin, Somers, Pete, Deb, and Harold are standing by our new phones to take your calls (512.467.7799). If you prefer, you can order online through our website’s PayPal service (www.texasrowingcenter.com).

As bad as the damage is, I know that everyone feels great about the amazing team effort that took place on Wednesday. On behalf of the TRC staff, thank you for your help in restoring our club, and thank you for making TRC one of a kind.

See you on the water,


About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of TOWERS Realty and publisher of Downtown Austin Blog (aka. "DAB"), spends his time matching remarkable people with remarkable properties in Austin’s urban core. A resident owner in downtown Austin, Jude has served on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.

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