NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A weekend’s worth of heavy rainfall might sound like a gardener’s dream come true, but the amount of rain that covered the already saturated gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University became a familiar headache to groundskeepers.
SFA Gardens official Facebook page shared a post Sunday night of what appeared to be a slow stream flowing through the middle of the garden, most of which could be blamed on the heavy rain that flooded the Lanana Creek over its banks.
“It rolled in around 11 o’clock at night, and I tell you what, it was like being in God’s bowling alley,” said David Creech, director of SFA Gardens. “I mean it was thunder, incessant lightning, and my gauge stopped at 5 inches, so I know we got at least 5 inches [of rain] in this area.”
Creech said the flooding is not unusual for the area; SFA Gardens is set in a low-lying plain, so the area floods anytime there’s significant rainfall. However, Creech said even with experience working in the area, Saturday night’s storm caught him by surprise.
“We’re dealing with it, like we have so many other floods, but this one was bad, I was actually kind of shocked how high it got,” Creech explained. “Being a gardener, after so many floods, we just kind of pin our ears back.”
Once gardeners got the chance to survey the damage, Creech said they mostly found debris scattered from trees and other vegetation, and several trees uprooted either by strong wind or earth that was so saturated the trees fell over during the storm. However, the gardens fared well overall.
“We came through pretty good with plants staying their place, but we do have a lot of cleaning up to do,” Creech said. “But it kind of gets in the way of things you’d like to be doing, so it’s kind like an emergency management mode.”
Creech said his staff understand life in a low-lying area; the land tends to be more fertile, however, it lends itself to flooding more often. The department planted Ball cypress trees along the creek to act as a ‘sediment trap’, to catch debris floating in the river.
Despite the amount of work to be done, the SFA Gardens will remain open to the public, with some areas simply taped off. As for how long it should take before the gardens return to normal, Creech said it could take anywhere between 2 to 3 months.
“It looks kind of devastating right now, but it won’t take long and we’ll have this thing back in shaped,” Creech said. “It’s part of the challenges of gardening in Lanana Creek bottom-land.”