By Joshua Winata
Killeen Daily Herald
LAMPASAS – With its largest festival of the year only days away, the city of Lampasas is scrambling to finish flood recovery efforts, but the ongoing rain is not making the job easy.
Town officials have their work cut out for them as they attempt to clean up the damage in time for the 36th annual Lampasas Spring Ho Festival, which runs from July 9 to 15. The event brings thousands of visitors to the city's downtown and parks.
While an estimated 3 inches of rain falling on Lampasas County in the past week did not reportedly cause any more major damage, it did make city officials nervous and caused a hindrance to continuing repairs on local parks.
W.M. Brook Park, which sustained $1.7 million in damage from earlier floods, is open to the public, but postings along Sulphur Creek warn people to stay away from the water.
"We've had the creek come up to its banks. It's been up and down for the last few weeks," said Monty Blackmon, director of the Lampasas Parks and Recreation department. "We're stuck in a feedback loop."
Water is currently 6 to 7 inches above the dams, but fortunately the creek lately has remained within its banks.
Lampasas endured a string of severe flooding, which began with the thunderstorms on March 30. Additional flooding on May 22 and 31 and again on June 17 and 26 only exacerbated the damages, and the rainy season hasn't slowed down much since.
"Every week that it rains, we get a little bit ahead, and then we have another event that messes up what we have fixed, especially the trails," Blackmon said.
Extensive repairs still need to be made to retaining walls, bridges and the hike and bike trail in W.M. Brook Park, a task made difficult by continuing precipitation.
The rain has made preparation for the Spring Ho Festival particularly challenging, delaying even basic cleanup and maintenance such as cutting the grass.
Despite the complications, the Spring Ho Festival is scheduled to continue with a minimal venue shuffling.
Several arts and food vendors using trailers will be relocated from near the creek over to the park's parking lot, and the Spring Ho Barbecue Cookoff scheduled on July 13 and 14 will be moved from the creek to the vacant lot off South Live Oak Street near the old railroad depot.
Monday morning's weather will be the key factor in whether to move the opening Spring Ho Beauty Pageant from Ruth Eakin Outdoor Theater to the high school auditorium, said Spring Ho Festival chair Cathy Walker. Festival attendees can call the Spring Ho office at (512) 556-5301 or listen to radio station KCYL-AM 1450 to confirm the location of the pageant.
"Everything's still going to go on. Rain or shine, it's still going to happen," Blackmon said. "I imagine people are getting cabin fever, so this might even be good for us."
The National Weather Service forecasts a 20 percent chance of rain in Lampasas for early next week – not as certain as it was this week.
"The forecast looks a lot better. We should have a beautiful week," Walker said. "The city has really worked hard in keeping up the park during all this rain. They've done a beautiful job."
Contact Joshua Winata at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-6481