“Thirst” tree survives yet another flood

Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 1, 2013

OK — now it’s getting beyond ironic.

The 35-foot cedar elm tree that forms the centerpiece of “Thirst,” a public art project literally on Lady Bird Lake, has survived yet another flood.

The storm Wednesday night that dropped up to 10 inches in parts of Austin flooded Lady Bird Lake and the surrounding trails, once again caused debris to clutter up around the piles and support structure that keep the tree seemingly hovering over the lake, its roots just out of reach of the water.

With the lake currently closed to all recreational and commercial boating, officials with Women & Their Work, the non-profit sponsoring and funding the project, said they are waiting to get the all-clear before heading out to be begin cleanup.

Work had begun Friday on repairing portions of the more than two-mile stretch of prayer flags that line the lake path, part of the “Thirst” project. Each flag features a silhouette image of the tree.

The “Thirst” project suffered a similar fate earlier this month when storm dumped more than a foot of rain during the last weekend of the Austin City Limits festival. Crews had to clean-up the tangle of debris and reset buoy line that cordone off the structure.

“Thirst” was created to call attention to the record-setting drought that’s destroyed 300 million trees in the last few years. The project is funded by a $50,000 grant that Women & Their Work received from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. “Thirst” is a creative collaboration betwen artist Beili Liu, architectural designer Norma Yancey and architects Emily Little and Cassie Bergstrom.

Despite all heavy rains in recent weeks, the drought, however, has not abated.

The bulk of the recnet rains have fallen downstream of Lake Travis and Lake Buchnan, from which Austin and surrounding communities draw their water supply.

The latest storm brought Lake Travis up about 6 inches. The storms earlier this month raised the lake level to about 35 percent of its capacity. The week’s rains pushed the storage level to about 36 percent.

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