Sitting in a compact John Deere tractor, Veronica Law watched the flooded creek in front of her home warily.

Law used the small front-end loader to plow out a narrow dugout and to build a dirt dam in front of her house, a small one-story stone building on the banks of Leon Creek off Pinn Road.

“That’s how high the water was,” Law said, gesturing to a line of silt and tree branches studded with discarded plastic bottles and food wrappers about 50 yards in front of her home. Law said she created the dugout to lead water away from her home’s basement, which is prone to flooding. “I’ve lived here almost 30 years and the water has never come up this high, not even during the 100-year flood.”

Veronica Law uses a tractor to remove floodwater from her property on Tuesday.
Veronica Law uses a tractor to remove floodwater from her property Tuesday. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

Following a wet holiday weekend, heavy storms swept across San Antonio on Tuesday, with the North and Northwest sides seeing up to 10 inches of rain. According to a tweet by the National Weather Service, Leon Creek at Interstate 35, several miles downstream from Law’s home, crested at 25.79 feet Tuesday, the fourth-highest on record for the Southwest Side location.

Flash flooding across the county led to several high water rescues Tuesday, and a search for one homeless individual had to be called off due to dangerous conditions.

“We had a call that came in around 8:40 a.m. this morning … that three homeless people were swept away in the current” near the 4300 block of Vance Jackson Road, just north of Loop 410, said Woody Woodward, the San Antonio Fire Department’s public relations manager. “We did find two of them.”

A woman was rescued without incident from a golf course bridge in the Olmos Basin area, he added.

A rescue boat returns to a San Antonio Fire Department staging area after searching Leon Creek floodwaters near U.S. 90 on Tuesday.
A rescue boat returns to a San Antonio Fire Department staging area Tuesday after searching Leon Creek near U.S. Highway 90. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

The deluge San Antonio has seen this past week is unusual, said Paul Yura, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Austin-San Antonio.

“Normally, we do not get this much rain in July — especially what happened in parts of San Antonio today, where in the last 24 hours, we’ve had some sections of Northwest San Antonio get upwards of 8, 9, even 10 inches of rain,” Yura said. “We’ve had big flash flood events before and some of them have been in July, but typically our Julys are a lot hotter and a lot drier than this.”

Rain is expected to continue for the next several days, but the amount likely will be less than what the area saw Tuesday, Yura said.

“There is a pattern that we’re in right now that’s just a good rain-producing pattern,” Yura said. Yura said the intense heat the country’s West Coast is experiencing right now is responsible for the unusual pattern. “The lack of any sort of high pressure over us is allowing these daily morning rain showers and thunderstorms.”

Drivers should be careful not to try to cross moving water like the swollen creek in front of Law’s home, Yura said. “Turn around, don’t drown” is a slogan San Antonians should abide by, he said.

Law said she often sees people try to cross Leon Creek, which doesn’t always go well.

“I don’t sleep well on the nights that it rains,” Law said. “I’ve had to call 911 a few times for people getting stuck in the creek.”

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.