During the heavy rain last week, the streets in southwest Amarillo looked less like roads and more like rivers.
The current drainage system in place is actually designed to let overflow water accumulate on the road, which is a far less expensive option than building an elaborate storm sewer system.
"There is a trade off we have to consider," said Kyle Schniederjan the City Engineer. "We can spend a lot of money up front and have zero water in the roadway. However, is that really a good use of public funds, given the frequency of the events in Amarillo?"
Despite what may look like chaos, there are actually strict criteria our drainage system meets.
During a two year storm event, the water cannot rise above the top of the curb. In a 100 year storm event, the water is engineered to rise 18 inches above the curb, or 24 inches above the flow line.
This past week, areas of Amarillo experienced rainfall at the same rate of the 100 year storm, with more than three inches of water within an hour.
Drivers need to be aware of the criteria outlined by city engineers and understand even a couple of inches of moving water have enough energy to move a car.
"The street's drainage function limits it's transportation function," said Schniederjan. "Knowing the street needs to carry water is a nuance in your head, but if you know you need to yield to pedestrians you should know to yield to storm water."
The Amarillo Fire Department says they responded to 29 swift water rescues during last week's rain. This number does not take into account the unreported cases crews responded to along the way.