Greg Moore used to race jet skis, making it to the world finals twice, but he never thought he would be cruising down Central Ave in downtown Belton on one.
Thanks to Tropical Storm Hermine, parts of Bell County last Wednesday got a little more rain than expected — almost nine inches.
One Killeen teenager was killed when her car was swept off the road into a creek. Dozens of people were evacuated, some rescued while clinging to trees.
Local business owners like Moore of Mace-O-Matic Transmission Service were hit hard, facing several thousand dollars in losses due to submerged equipment and damaged buildings.
With his shop under almost waist-deep water, Moore had to act fast.
“I was walking back and forth trying to get to my truck at the end of the street trying to salvage what I could out of the office …. It was taking forever, so I got on my jet ski,” he said.
Riding down the street didn’t seem to faze him.
“I knew where the road was, and I just judged off the construction cones how deep it was,” Moore said.
On the UMHB campus, Presser Hall suffered minor issues due to quick response from staff, according to Associate Vice President for Facilities Bob Pattee.
“Only the first early morning class was affected, and the flooding was controlled and cleaned up by 10 a.m.,” he said.
Overall damages on campus were minimal with small roof and window leaks, and repairs are already underway.
Downtown suffered from the raging water overflowing from Nolan Creek, wreaking havoc on businesses, homes and government offices. Flood water rushed past the jail and under the bridge on Main Street. In the local park, crews were hard at work cleaning up debris and overturned light poles unable to hold themselves up because of the soggy ground.
Business owners Ronnie and Staci Schoepf of Schoepf’s Old Time Bar-B-Que on Central Avenue were especially hit hard by the rainfall. Ronnie Schoepf said significant damage as the result of
“Of course just the daily business is a huge devastation,” he said.
Along with having to gut the water-logged walls, the business will have to replace equipment, some less than a year old.
As for when the business will be up and running again, Schoepf is uncertain.
“I mean so far I’ve been asked that question about a hundred times and I don’t know yet. I’m hoping I can say next week or weekend but we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
Belton wasn’t the only city hard hit. The access road at the Nola Ruth Exit toward Harker Heights off 190 looked like the pavement had just slid off the road.
Area homes suffered too, some even swept away in the night. Pecan Village Mobile Home Community off Old Nolanville Rd. in Harker Heights reportedly had to have 21 families rescued Tuesday night when a retaining wall for a creek broke. Homes lay turned on their sides and one car even rested under a mobile home.
With the sun back out again, scores of residents and business owners, are now surrounded by mud, debris, and for some, significant losses.
And while the floods were devastating, Governor Rick Perry hinted that there are still six more weeks of hurricane season when he addressed the public Thursday at the Bell County Communications Center. Before arriving he observed the damage from a Department of Public Safety’s helicopter.
Perry and the state have issued a disaster declaration for 40 counties including Bell County. The declaration could benefit residential, apartment and business owners who suffered damage.
“I want to say thank you to the first responders. There were a lot of rescue operations … and a lot of lives saved,” he said.
Freshman Colin Davies joined forces with the BSM, going to Helping Hands Thursday to unload food and clothing for victims.
“Shawn Shannon made an announcement in Focus and we made one in Hardy also asking students to donate and help,” he said.
Students wishing to help out can contact the BSM at ext. 4273 or watch for emails from Dr. Byron Weathersbee.