Room to rise: lake levels drop, more rain ahead

By Carolyn Roy - bio|email

UNCERTAIN, TX (KSLA) - ArkLaTex lakes and rivers have had only a brief reprieve from rising levels brought by heavy rains over the past two weeks. It was enough to allow some to drop a bit, leaving room to rise now that the rain has returned.

Tour boat operator Billy Carter will be watching carefully to see just how much higher the levels will go at Johnson's Ranch marina on Caddo Lake in Uncertain, Texas. It's only been a day or so since he's been able to walk inside the waterlogged marina itself, and the historic building is still surrounded, and more rain is on the way. "It's already hurting business, because this is prime time to be fishing on Caddo Lake. The yellow bass and the sand bass have started their run up river and Lake o' the Pines. It's not unusual to just sit there and catch 50 or 100 fish and never budge."

Instead, Carter's boats aren't budging from their moors, and nobody's interested in fishing in the rain. In fact, the only boats that are moving lately are those used to shuttle residents back and forth over flooded roads to their homes on Taylor Island and in Cypress Village.

Captain Don Gibb's Graceful Ghost Steamboat isn't moving, either. Docked at Shady Glade Marina, Gibb's steamboat tour operation is idle, his ticket office just drying out from taking on water last week. "At this point, we don't know when we'll be back in business," Gibbs says. It's especially nerve-wracking for many of the recreation and tourism-based businesses around the lake, since October is normally one of the busiest months. An extended shut-down could make or break their survival through the rest of the year. "It's put a hardship on everyone out here, all of the businesses are feeling the crunch from this."

Things don't look much better for the Shady Glade Marina itself. The café was flooded with about a half a foot of water last week. "I don't know how much equipment's been damaged, but all the paneling and the molding is going to have to be changed out. It may be weeks before they're opening again," Gibbs guesses.

As of Monday morning, October 26th, Caddo Lake was at 174.0 feet, and expected to drop to 174.8 feet by Tuesday morning. Flood stage is 172.0 feet. As much as 5 inches of rain could fall in the area on Thursday.

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