What RVers Need to Know About Flash Flood Safety

What started out to be a beautiful, relaxing Sunday of sightseeing and shopping Bandera, Texas ended up, as RVers, being a teaching moment.

Our visit to Bandera, Texas

We decided after breakfast to drive to Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, that scheduled a well-planned craft show, parade, cowboy demonstrations and bands.  However, when we got there, it was apparent that everything was cancelled. The courthouse lawn, where craft vendor tents were supposed to be posted a stark visual of how nasty storms can be in Texas.  Instead of seeing busy vendors with shoppers browsing and buying, we saw was a huge mangled mess of tent frames knotted together.

Our plans turned into a teaching moment…

On the night of May 29, 2016, our television programming was interrupted several times with weather warnings of high winds, heavy rain, hail and flash flooding.  This was a daily occurance which I think is why it may not have been taken as serious as it should have or at least to the RV Park in Bandera that abutted the Medina River.

We walked a short block from our parking space directly in front of the courthouse down near the river’s edge at the municipal recreation park.  We had to tiptoe on the grass as it was a soggy, spongy mess.

Usually, on a weekend day, its difficult to score a picnic table however, it was a different story the day we visited.  There were several vacant tables scattered amongst the soggy grass. Some of the picnic tables were even gone.  The park, normally, is a popular family outing area with families gathering around the picnic tables with their coolers on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  However, the picture was quite different. The tables were swept away by the raging flooding river just a few feet away the night prior.

We looked up and down as far as we could see and saw the ravaged remnants of uprooted trees, trash cans, floating logs and debris riding the rapid current of the river.

We then we walked under the Route 16 bridge that lead to the Pioneer RV River Resort.

Seeing the devastation left behind…

We didn’t have to walk far to see the result of how powerful this flash flood was.  These RV’s were about 50′ from the new water’s edge; normally, it would be double that distance.

Notice the camper on the far left.  That camper was moved a complete 180. These sites were supposed to be back-ins.

We’ve heard of tight spaces at RV parks but not this tight!

As RVers, we never want to see the underbelly of any camper or RV ‘this way’.


We couldn’t help noticing the log that impaled the RV’s sidewall from the force of the raging river.



This should be the generator storage compartment of the RV.

Campers didn’t have time to unhook their RVs from their utilities. They literally pulled away without manually disconnecting.

More remnants of Mother Nature’s wrath…

This motorcycle lived through it but didn’t come out unscathed. The bicycle wasn’t so lucky.

This camper was taken by the flash flood current. The trees stopped it from going into the overflow access.

We almost stepped on this little fellow on the lawn on one of the RV sites.

This was a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic. The owner most likely cried when he saw it today in this condition. I know we would!

This flash flood happened so fast. This RV’er was trying to get out of the park but the flooding river decided otherwise. This truck and camper was swept about 100 yards before settling on the hill.

The day before the storm, all of these sites were occupied. The following day, they were all abandoned but the water receded.

Talking with the locals….

We stopped to talk with a young family who revisited the RV park to see the aftermath of this flash flood.  They lived through this scary ordeal that night.  What saved them is they saw headlights coming down the road which reflected off the creeping river in the darkness.  The father told us he stepped outside to see the river only feet from his camper and truck.  They and about 40 other campers were scrambling trying to get their RVs out of there as the river crept closer.  He said they literally got out of there just in time.  They saw one camper being swept past them as they were pulling away.


We returned to our truck and started to drive back to our own RV about 30 miles away and passed this on the roadway.


And this camper and truck were swept off of the roadway by the flash flood into the raging river.  A man and his 10 year old son were inside the truck; most likely fleeing from the same RV park we had visited minutes prior.  According to news sources, they climbed out of the truck and clung to nearby tree branches awaiting help.  They were found 5:00 a.m. that morning…alive.

Our teaching moment…

These flash flood warnings are no joke.  They are swift and deadly.

We now pay particular attention AND TAKE SERIOUS of the severity of flash floods.

We now always have planned A QUICK EXIT STRATEGY!

In other words, don’t argue with Mother Nature.  She always wins. Oh, and its apparent that she doesn’t like RVs much either.

For some more pertinent information…

RV Tips for Weather Emergencies

Family Camping Safety Tips and Tricks

5 Replies to “What RVers Need to Know About Flash Flood Safety”

  1. Just incredible! Excellent photos and write-up. Our first RV (a Class B) is due in any day now, so we are the newest of Newbies. Excited about it, but the recent rash of horrible weather across the entire mid-section of the country has me concerned. Storm systems that cover multiple states at a time for several days could sure make things difficult. Your advice is spot on. Be ready to evacuate quickly and have good insurance. We'll be using a good weather radio as well.

  2. It would be nice that a tool be invented to assess your flood zone area, when you are camped in an area near a river, you check the status of your App that informs you that you are within a flood zone and based on the warnings and past floods you should move to higher ground. We live in New Branunfels TX, just a short mile from the Guadalupe River, during heavy rains it floods the surrounding areas but we are not impacted by the flooding due to our home location so we know from experience that we are safe here, but when you are traveling in new areas we need a tool in our tool belt to determine our danger of flooding in the particular area we are currently parked.

    1. Rusty, good point. I just think that, in general, campers should be aware that ‘anywhere’ they park such as low-lying areas, water prone, etc., that they need to expect the inevitable. I know anytime we are out in the desert southwest, it’s literally hammered into boondockers to stay away from washes; and most do. I don’t know why the same isn’t done about rivers and tidal areas. ‘Waterside’ has a special allure. People gravitate towards it not realizing it’s potential. Even we admit that we love to be camped or parked near the waters edge but after seeing this first hand, it kind of makes us a bit more observant and aware. Oh, and thanks for reading. Be safe out there but have fun.

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