The Big Chill: How the Lost Creek Limited District Protected and Preserved District Buildings and Amenities Before the Storm and Assisted District Residents with Cleanup Afterwards
Before the record-breaking winter storm blew in on February 13, the Limited District took action to protect and preserve District assets including the office/community building and park facilities. Parks and facilities manager, Bartolo Sanchez, known to many as “Bart,” shut off the water to and winterized the outdoor drinking fountains, doggie fountains, and restrooms (including adding antifreeze to the exposed toilet bowls). He and administrative assistant, Holly Pope, took steps to winterize the office building before leaving on Friday afternoon by leaving the heat on inside the building and leaving the cabinet under the kitchen sink and the door to the storage room open, and closing all blinds to minimize heat loss through the glass. Bart also took steps to protect the tender vegetation in the beds in front of the office building by purchasing and installing additional mulch.
As a result of these precautions, the District fared well during the freeze. Neither the building nor the outdoor facilities suffered frozen or broken pipes. Fortunately, the District also suffered no significant damage to the trees at Boulevard Park as it had recently engaged a certified arborist to complete tree work which included removal of dead wood and raising the canopies in the park. This work lessened the likelihood that larger limbs would be weighed down and broken by snow and ice.
During the freeze, there was damage to the City of Austin-owned water tank adjacent to the District office building. A special shout-out to the resident who contacted a Board member to advise of the break and ask whom to contact. REMINDER – all things “water” belong to and are the responsibility of the City of Austin. If you have questions about or problems with water service, water outages, or if you observe main line breaks or water rushing from a water tank (any and all things water), contact the Austin Water Customer Service Center at 512-972-1000 or call 3-1-1.
After the thaw, the Dad’s Club rallied the troops and initiated an effort to assist elderly, disabled, or infirmed neighbors with post-storm cleanup. Ultimately, the District and many other residents also benefited from those efforts. On Sunday, February 21, approximately 70+ volunteers (Dad’s Club members, their families, and other civic-minded individuals) gathered, along with a fleet of approximately 10 pickup trucks and a handful of dump- and flat-bed trailers, and cleared debris. The initial pile of landscape debris was approximately 100 yards long, five yards wide, and 3-4 yards high. More was added throughout the week. Thank you to each and every volunteer who participated in this monumental task.
Bart contributed to the effort when he returned to work on Monday, February 22, by immediately beginning the task of removing fallen and potentially hazardous limbs from District parks and greenbelt areas. That work is ongoing as more storm damage is identified or reported.
The Limited District engaged a contractor to chip and remove the “football field” of limbs using budgeted FireWise funds. Chipping was completed on Thursday, February 25. (Fun Fact: The pile of debris removed from the District produced approximately 218 cubic yards of mulch weighing 60 tons!)
During and immediately following the freeze event, many, many residents, including members of the Board of Directors, offered assistance with helping neighbors turn off their water mains at the street, repairing broken pipes until plumbers could arrive, delivering food and water, offering rides, and offering access to homes that had power/water. Thank you to everyone who assisted or offered assistance in the various forms that they were able to provide it.
It wasn’t a lot of fun, but we are happy to announce that the District and District residents rose to the occasion and met the challenges head-on.