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LEON COUNTY - Texas is in the middle of a 10-year drought. Many of the state's lakes and rivers are below normal levels. There's one lake in the Brazos Valley that is bucking that trend.
On any given day, the view of Lake Limestone beats anything you'll find while at work. For Ellie Engle, this is her office.
She pulls out a large D-ring binder and starts flipping through the pages. These binders hold memories. Some of the biggest, or first catches, for young and old at Lake Limestone.
"This is not an easy lake to fish," she says, looking at the pages of the binder. Big fish and big smiles.
Times weren't always this good.
"2011 started out as a pretty decent year, early in the year, and very quickly we realized the rains weren't coming," said Engle.
Lakes dried up. Rivers turned to sand. Water levels at Lake Limestone dropped. Then, around Halloween, the rain came. It fell hard.
"If the lake had been empty going into that night, three days later it would have been 60 or 70 percent full. It was that much water that flowed into it that quickly," said Brad Brunett with the Brazos River Authority. He and the BRA say the lake rose seven feet in a matter of hours.
"We had that one rainfall event that occurred on Halloween night and the lake, essentially, filled up over night," continued Brunett.
"That first big rain came in and filled the lake back up, it was like 'oh, thank you!" said Engle.
"It was just amazing. It's amazing what it does to people's spirits, too," she smiled.
Even on a windy day, folks and businesses around Lake Limestone aren't worried. There might not be a lot of people out on the lake right now, but the water level is up, higher than it's been in years past.
If you were to have visited during 2011 or 2012, this would have been a rocky beach.
"We were worried," admitted Engle.
"Of course, we were worried. If it had gone on for another three years. I don't know that we could have sustained that," she continued.
Engle says sacrifices were made. Changes, including opening up a kitchen, helped in the hard months.
"I think the lessons that we've learned through this tough time are going to stay with us for a long time because you can't survive unless you do those things," she continued.
She and her marina plan to be open for many summers to come.
Lake Limestone feeds into the Navasota River and is used as cooling water for nearby power plants. Ellie tells us that the lake being full this time of the year usually means the level won't drop so far in the summer.
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