Prolonged drought is final blow to small North Texas town – ‘It was like there was a fire drill and everybody left and never came back’Posted by Jim at Sunday, January 26, 2014
By Bill Hanna
19 January 2014
MEGARGEL – When Debbie Wells purchased the Megargel High School campus in 2009, she didn’t realize she was becoming the caretaker for so much of the town’s history.
Still inside the school that opened in 1927 are desks, yearbooks and old photos of students. Near the front entrance, the Megargel school board’s last agenda is still posted from June 2006; it includes the item to consolidate with the Olney school district.
Next door, the gymnasium that opened in 1950 still has its scoreboard and a few basketballs strewn across the dusty hardwood court. Outside, the goal posts to the old six-man football field are in still place, surrounded by weeds.
“It was like there was a fire drill and everybody left and never came back,” said Wells who lives with her family in the former agriculture building behind the school.
For Megargel, population 203 — on Texas 114, about 110 miles northwest of Fort Worth — the former high school campus may be the most visible sign of a town fading away, but it’s far from the only one.
Downtown is virtually empty, littered with crumbling and abandoned buildings and outdated gas stations. Many houses are vacant and of the town’s 200 water meters, only 130 are active.
And like many small Texas towns hit by the prolonged drought, Megargel is struggling with its water supply.
Since last March, Megargel has been in Stage 3 water restrictions, which includes a ban on outdoor watering. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality considers it to have a 90-day supply of water but city officials say the town lake, the sole of source of water, has held steady in recent months.
Town officials have had discussions with Baylor Water Supply Corp in Seymour about building an emergency water line to supply the town in case its lake runs dry.
Even if the water situation improves, city leaders worry about the town’s survival.
“Unless something changes I can’t see any reason it won’t completely disappear,” said Jerry Goodwin, who has been a city councilman since 2009. “We’ve talked about it and most of the people are like me, they just don’t see anything that could keep us going for very much longer.” [more]