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Monday, October 14, 2013

Worries About Flooding Cancel Austin City Limits Festival

Heavy rains and worries about flash flooding in central Texas caused the cancellation of the last day of the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

In a statement posted on the Austin City Limits website, the communications director for C3 Presents, the promoter of Austin City Limits Music festival, said: “Our first priority is always the safety of our fans, staff and artists. We regret having to cancel the show today, but safety always comes first.”


  • David Brown, host and producer for KUT and KUTX. He’s also the a former host of Marketplace.




From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson. It's HERE AND NOW.

For the first time ever, the Austin City Limits Festival had to cancel all of its shows yesterday. That was because of heavy rains that have soaked central Texas. There have been reports of 12 inches of rain. More rain in the forecast for the next several days.

Joining us is David Brown, senior producer and reporter for HERE AND NOW contributor station KUT in Austin. David, welcome back.

DAVID BROWN, BYLINE: Hey. How are you doing, Jeremy?

HOBSON: Good. So tell us what the rain has been like.

BROWN: It's, you know, it's funny. When it started raining really hard Sunday night - I should say Saturday night into Sunday morning, my little girl - she's 3-years-old - she ran into the bedroom and she said, daddy, is this real rain? Yeah, it's real rain all right although it's sort of surreal at moments. You'd see the sheets coming down for a while. And then all of a sudden, you know, how the streetlamp illuminates rain sometimes, it came down so thick you could barely see the light.

It was as if river - a river of water was coming at the window. I thought maybe the window, you know, wouldn't - might break or shatter or something. It was pretty frightening to me. Now it didn't go that way all night long, but the intensity of it was really epic. It was quite a sight.

HOBSON: Has there been damage?

BROWN: Been quite a bit of damage, most of it flooding to bedrooms and living rooms, a lot of reports all over town. In fact, the relief companies, these companies that try to clean up after flooding, they've just been overwhelmed. You can't - when you call in, they just - they're just not answering phones anymore.

The Office of Emergency Management here, they received so many calls all at once that they kicked in a special emergency response unit to try to coordinate all activities. Now a lot of that has subsided, and now it's pretty much clean up. But the rain continues to fall, and the forecast is not looking good.

HOBSON: And, David, how big of a deal is it that this day of festivities at Austin City Limits had to be canceled? I see that Lionel Richie and Thom Yorke were scheduled to perform and were unable to do so as scheduled.

BROWN: Well, as scheduled, I guess, is the operative phrase there because it turns out an enterprising high-tech entrepreneur was able to snag Lionel Richie for a house concert in front of 50 people since he wasn't doing anything else that night.

HOBSON: Those lucky 50.

BROWN: Thom Yorke - sorry?

HOBSON: Those lucky 50 people.

BROWN: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Thom Yorke actually did end up playing, band Atoms for Peace. He was able to play at the Moody Theater. And they were able to get word out quickly over social media, $10 a ticket. So it was kind of a special event for some people, but obviously a big disappointment for most folks.

And C3, the company that organizes Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Music Fest, they say that everyone is going to be refunded for the cancellation of day three, you know, unprecedented. It's going to cost them about $5.5 million according to some estimates.

HOBSON: There is a headline in the Dallas Morning News today: Every drop helps but the rains won't dent north Texas' drought. So this is not going to be helpful for your drought?

BROWN: No, not really. That's not a drought buster was the phrase that people are using around here. I have heard just within the past couple of minutes that Lady Bird Lake, which is that beautiful lake that bifurcates Austin, Texas, that is up by two feet as a result of the rains.


BROWN: But - and we still haven't seen the last of it because it's going to take two or three days for all the tributaries to feed into the lakes around here. So nonetheless, we've been, you know, suffering through a decades-long drought, actually the longest drought in Texas history, and this is not going to get us close to where we need to be.

HOBSON: David Brown at KUT in Austin, Texas. David, thanks.

BROWN: Thank you, Jeremy.

HOBSON: And up next, are we training enough people in science? We're going to talk to one person who says yes. That's next. HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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