High water washes over lanes on Interstate 35, stranding drivers

Traffic in 2 areas of I-35 hit hard by heavy rain

By Katrina Webber - Crime Fighters Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A hard and fast downpour created a watery headache for drivers on two stretches of Interstate 35 Friday morning.

One of the areas, the lower level of I-35 at San Pedro Avenue near downtown, is known for flooding during heavy rain.

San Antonio firefighters and police were called to the area for a high water rescue around 5:30 a.m.

Police officers were able to help the driver walk out of the water, so no rescue was needed by firefighters, according to a spokesman for SAFD.

However, the car was left floating in the water, which covered the highway’s southbound lanes.

A little farther north, on northbound I-35 near Thousand Oaks, drivers tried to find a way around what looked like a river.

D’Anna Garza, who was trying to head to work in Austin, didn’t see all that water until it was too late.

"As soon as I get on the ramp to enter, the water was right there,” she said. “I had no choice to back up because there were cars right behind me."

Garza said she attempted to maneuver around the trouble but there was nowhere to go. Water had washed over all of the lanes.

"I was calm and everything until these lovely 18-wheelers that are passing by decide to not slow down,” she said.

With help from firefighters, Garza was able to wade through the thigh-high impromptu pond. However, she had to leave the car behind.

“I have puddles in my shoes now,” Garza said, chuckling.

She said all she can do is laugh because this is just another stroke in what has been a month of bad luck.

The car Garza was driving actually was a rental. Her own truck is being repaired after an accident just a couple of weeks ago, she said.

The inconvenience for other drivers may not have risen to that level, but still, many found themselves either crawling along in traffic or not moving at all.

During the height of the flooding, some drivers were forced to creep along the inside emergency lane.

Others were guided off the highway altogether with help from police, using the entrance ramp for their exit.

By 6:30 a.m., a crew from the state Department of Transportation had arrived to move some of the water off the highway.

They used rakes to clear debris that was blocking some of the drains.

Even as the water began to recede from the roadway, there was a traffic backup that spanned about five miles.

According to officials with the fire department, firefighters answered a total of nine calls beginning at midnight for cars stranded in high water. 

Most of those involved them just making sure no one was inside the vehicles.

They conducted two actual rescues, which simply involved them helping the drivers wade through knee-high water, a spokesman said.

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