On July 7, 2002, Brownwood residents awoke to find 2 square miles of downtown under about three feet of water. Wal-Mart and Kroger were closed, Highways 84/67/377 and CC Woodson Blvd were impassable, making the trip from Brownwood to Early seem like it took an eternity. Anyone wishing to make the trip had to drive on the access road. The access road, which has a higher bridge over Pecan Bayou than the bridges in town had been closed to a single lane down the middle due to the Bayou’s water lapping on the shoulders of the roadway. “If the water had risen just a couple more inches we would have had to shut it down too,” said Tyrone Parkus, former city volunteer. “I remember that day vividly, it was a disaster.”
Prior to the flood of 2002, the city had endured two other floods of similar magnitude in the previous 13 years. The city spent money to solve the flooding problems by widening the banks of Adams Branch Creek, those efforts proved to do very little during the flood of 2002. “Some city leaders will tell you that widening the banks of that creek made it hold more water, but it didn’t hold enough more water,” stated Parkus. That’s when Parkus decided to try and obtain a grant to fund a study on how to solve future flooding problems in Brownwood.
Parkus was unable to secure funding for a study, so he solicited the idea to Howard Payne University and Daniel Baker College, hoping that one of them would volunteer to perform the study. “I knew Howard Payne might be too busy, you know they’re always out looking for a street to buy from the city and close down. On the other hand, Daniel Baker College hasn’t done anything in a long time, so I fully expected them to contribute.” What Parkus discovered surpassed even his wildest dreams. “I met a man who graduated from Daniel Baker College back in the late 40s, he said he would help me, and off we went.”
“Our study indicated that the best way to prevent the Pecan Bayou from flooding in the future is to fill it in. If there’s no river, there’s no flood, that’s the way we look at it.” Parkus even suggested his hypothesis has already proven true. “I put some dirt down in the Bayou when we first came up with this hypothesis to test it, and it hasn’t flooded in a long time, heck it doesn’t even rain here anymore, I think we’re on to something.” Parkus is hoping someone who wishes to get rid of some excess soil and gravel will come forward with a donation.
Right now, Parkus is planning his presentation to present to the city, and he is hypothesizing that filling in Adams Branch and Willis Creek could further alleviate flooding situations. “The only thing I worry about with filling in Willis Creek is losing the recreational value of that creek. I grew up fishing and riding jet skis on that creek, I’d hate to see it go.”
Below (left), Lake Brownwood flows just slightly over its spillway (a sight that hasn’t been seen since Parkus began filling in the bayou). Below (right), Lake Brownwood rolling over the spillway in the flood of 2002.
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