Fort Worth

‘They Were My Everything,' Family of Fort Worth Drowning Victims Speak Out

Flash flooding in Fort Worth claimed the lives of three people over the weekend. A mother and her 2-year-old daughter drowned when their car was swept into a culvert near Loop I-820 and Wilbarger Street. A 69-year-old man, Eddy Volpp, died in his car about a mile away on South Cravens Road.

On Monday, city leaders said there's a backlog of tens of millions of dollars' worth of repairs that could help prevent street flooding.

Family and friends held a candlelight vigil Monday night for 18-year-old Jessica Romero, who drowned Saturday along with her 2-year-old daughter Llaylanni.

Romero's aunt Genoveva Romero told NBC 5 that Jessica called her when her car was swept into the flood waters. She said she didn't see it coming.

"I said why didn't you call 911, why did you call me? And you could hear it in her voice that she was scared and you could hear my niece, the great-niece, the 2-year-old baby laughing saying, 'Agua, agua.' She didn't know what was going on and then it just cut off," Romero said. "We lost our babies. They were my everything."

The vigil was near where their car was swept into the culvert. It was not an area known for flooding.

But between Friday and Saturday, Fort Worth firefighters responded to more than 380 water-related incidents all over the city, more than 40 of those were high-water rescues, most within a three-hour period on Saturday. Many of the incidents were in known problem areas.

City leaders said Monday it would cost many tens of millions of dollars to fix a backlog of problems in the city's aging storm water drainage system that could help prevent such serious flooding.

Right now, the city budgets just $10 million dollars a year for all storm water issues.

"Seeing if we can partner with a private developer, see if there is a way to start taking bites out of these really big problems. But the scale of most of those problems is just well beyond the ability of the city's program resources to address," said Greg Simmons, assistant director for the city of Fort Worth transportation and public works department.

Simmons said that crews are still checking to make sure nothing blocked the drainage system in those high-water areas. But right now, they think it was just the sudden amount of rain, in some areas considered a 50- to 100-year flooding event.

The city is also looking to develop a flood warning system, but Simmons said that was likely years away.

For now, firefighters are urging all drivers not to drive through water, especially if they can't clearly see the road.

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