Rain eases in Southeast Texas but flooding will take time to recede

Emergency personnel respond to flooding on FM 1988 on May 2, 2024, in Livingston. (Drone Brothers, Drone Brothers)

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The rainfall began to ease in the hardest hit areas of Southeast Texas late Sunday, but water that has swelled in rivers, creeks and lakes will not begin to fully recede until later this week, meteorologists said.

“We have not had a lot of significant rainfall [today], we've had an average of less than two inches of rain across much of [Harris County] and even less than that in a lot of areas,” said Jeff Lindner, a senior meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District. Lindner said the county expects to control the flooding by Tuesday.

“We expect this to kind of wind down in the next couple of hours,” Lindner said. “A lot of where the rain is falling down now hasn't had a lot of rain this week, so they can easily handle what's happening.”

Water levels peaked Saturday and remained high late Sunday afternoon. The west fork of the San Jacinto River north of Harris County is still in a major flood stage, with levels at roughly 55 feet, which is 6 feet above flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. The level was projected to fall in the coming days. County officials also told The Texas Tribune they also would monitor for excess discharges of water flowing downstream from Southeast Texas, including Lake Livingston in Polk County. The Trinity River, which feeds into Lake Livingston, was in a major flood stage on Sunday, with levels remaining 10 feet above normal levels at 5:45 p.m.

A flood watch advisory remained in effect for cities north of Interstate 10, including Houston, Liberty, Conroe, Columbus, Brenham, College Station, Huntsville, Onalaska, and Crockett. Meteorologists predicted the storm will taper overnight. Many areas, from Lufkin in Southeast Texas to College Station and The Woodlands are under moderate chance of excessive rainfall, the weather service said.

[How Texans can prepare for extreme weather]

Emergency responders in Harris County have rescued 233 people and 164 pets, according to the Office of Emergency Management’s last count on late afternoon Sunday.

Small child dies in North Texas flooding

A young chid died early Sunday morning in Johnson County, south of Fort Worth, as flood waters rushed over a county road.

The child and two adults exited their vehicle and fled on foot during the flooding just before 2 a.m. They were swept away by the water, leading to a rescue attempt, according to a Facebook post by Johnson County Emergency Management. The two adults were rescued. The child was found dead several hours later.

The child was listed by authorities as 5-years-old, though a GoFundMe page set up by their family listed his age as 4.

The death is the only one reported so far in flooding across the state. Hundreds of people have had to be rescued from their homes or cars. — Matthew Watkins

East Texans try to reach their homes, save pets

COLDSPRING – Willie Rawls woke up to water at the steps of his home Thursday in the river bottoms of Coldspring – one of the first towns hit by the several hundred thousand gallons of water released from the Lake Livingston Dam.

The dam was releasing water in an effort to maintain its levels as merciless rain storms drenched East Texas this week.

Rawls, 73 and in hospice care, was evacuated by the San Jacinto Sheriff’s Office, who arrived in an airboat and lifted him to safety.

He arrived at Browder’s Marina & Campgrounds, a high point on a hill to the west of the Camilla Twin Harbors neighborhood — otherwise known as the river bottoms. The campgrounds served as a refuge for residents fleeing the rushing water. He was eventually moved by a friend to a different shelter in hopes he'd have better access to medical care.

Rawls is among hundreds of Texans across a large region stretching from rural East Texas to the Houston suburbs grappling with a new reality this weekend. Their homes, businesses and other property have been swamped. Despite a break in the storms Saturday, more rain and storms are headed their way.

For those staying at the marina, checking on their homes was top of mind. A police barricade deterred many early Saturday. But by midafternoon cars streamed in and out of the neighborhood as residents sought information about their homes.

Evacuees became excited as a truck pulled in towing an airboat. East Texas Hoof and Paw, a nonprofit animal rescue, called on the drivers for help rescuing pets from the area. The airboat spent hours in the water retrieving more than a dozen dogs left by their owners in a hurry to flee the oncoming flood.

A school bus driven by teens and young adults backed into the water along Richard Street to visit the neighborhood.

Continue reading here.

Rain across Texas may make flooding in southeast corner worse

Texas will be blanketed by storms Saturday evening and Sunday, which could have a cascading effect for the southeast corner of the state that is already under water.

More rain is expected on Sunday in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and if it's a lot, it could be problematic for those downstream.

Thunderstorms will increase across the region tonight and are expected to move across North and Central Texas. The average rainfall could be between 1 to 3 inches, with the highest increase threat of sudden, violent floods in the Hill Country near Waco and Killeen. The National Weather Service expects rainfall in parts of Central Texas to amount up to 5 inches.

The heaviest downpours in central Texas will occur upstream of the Houston area. Extensive river flooding will continue and any additional rainfall will aggravate already flooded areas in Harris County. Currently, close to a dozen river gauges have reached major flood stage in southeast Texas.

In the Houston/Galveston area the main focus is on late this evening into Sunday as more rounds of showers and thunderstorms are expected. An additional 1 to 3 inches and in some areas up to 4 to 8 inches are possible through Sunday. Also a few storms may bring strong to severe hail and strong gusts of wind. The weather service advises residents in the region to not drive across flooded roads.

The Associated Press reporteds more than 400 people in the Houston area have been rescued from homes, rooftops and roads engulfed in murky water.

Much of north and southeast Texas are still in a flood watch.

—Alejandra Martinez

Harris County has rescued hundreds of people and pets as flood waters continue to rise

Flooding in Kingwood.
Flooding in Kingwood. Credit: City of Houston

High waters have flooded Kingwood, a suburb about 30 miles northeast of downtown Houston. Residents have been told to evacuate if possible as water in creeks in streams start to rise.

The West Fork of the San Jacinto River, which is near the area, has reached its peak at 59 feet (as of 3 p.m.), about 13 feet above flood stage. The river feeds into Lake Houston, a reservoir directly below Kingwood. While the river’s height of the water is expected to taper off later today, Harris County officials say tonight’s heavy rain is expected to bring the threat of more flooding.

The Associated Press reports seeing game wardens in Kingwood riding airboats through waist-high waters rescuing people and pets who did not evacuate in time.

During a press conference Saturday Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said county officials had rescued 176 people and 122 pets as of 1 p.m. Hidalgo said rescues had slowed last night, but things could change as the day goes on.

She was taking an aerial tour with the county’s flood control team to assess the extent of the flood damage.

“We want to see the magnitude of the impacts so we can plan for recovery. And also just to see how our infrastructure fared in the area,” Hidalgo said during the press conference.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire went on a separate aerial tour earlier Saturday and shared photos showing sprawls of land under water, extensive flooding on top of roads and water that reached home rooftops.

More heavy rain is expected tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

"Houston residents benefit when all levels of government work together," Whitmire said in a press release. "Together, we will get through these challenges. Let’s go to work."

The mayor’s office is offering free transportation services for evacuation. Residents can contact 311 for evacuation transit. In an email he urged residents to plan before they are inundated by high water.

— Alejandra Martinez

Here's how full the rivers in Southeast Texas are

While there’s lull in the heavy rain this morning, isolated to scattered thunderstorms are possible this afternoon and evening, which may contribute to the ongoing flooding in east Texas.

Rivers in Southeast Texas are already full.

The Trinity River’s gauge north of the city of Shepard peaked at 49 feet on Friday. It’s gone down to 48 feet, as of this morning — still 12 feet above flood stage. More storms could continue to drenched the areas of Polk, Montgomery, Liberty and Harris counties as the water travels down waterways. The Trinity River’s water feeds into Lake Livingston.

The West Fork of the San Jacinto River contributes to Lake Conroe, which then feeds into Lake Houston, as does other runoff. All eventually empty into the Gulf of Mexico. The West Fork of the San Jacinto River is expected to peak at 61 feet, 16 feet above flood stage, on early Sunday morning. The San Jacinto River Authority, an agency that manages Lake Conroe, assured residents on Facebook that operators will strive to gradually reduce water releases from the lake while also protecting the dam’s infrastructure. But added, “operations could change if another storm enters the watershed.”

The next round of heavy rainfall is expected late tonight into Sunday. Scattered storms are expected to develop early afternoon mainly along I-20 impacting the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Thunderstorms will increase in coverage tonight moving toward west of I-35. Very heavy rainfall may result in some flash flooding overnight across parts of North and Central Texas with a threat for severe weather mainly in the cities of Waco and Killeen. The National Weather Service expects an additional 1 to 3 inches with isolated higher amounts up to 5 inches possible in the Houston/Galveston area.

If bodies of water swell again it will add to the already filled creeks, rivers and reservoirs. Excessive runoff has also resulted in flooding of low-lying homes and flood prone locations. Southeast Texas and part of North Texas are under a flood watch through 1 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Moderate to major river flooding continues today into next week.

— Alejandra Martinez

They lost everything — including their children's shoes

LIVINGSTON — Clinton Jones looked across the emergency shelter Friday. His children were going stir crazy. His wife, Samantha, and mother-in-law, Lee Farrell, were making the best of the cots and blankets they received from the Red Cross.

The 27-year-old’s family was one of thousands who fled their Southeast Texas homes as heavy rains saturated land in multiple counties and filled lakes and streams. An unknown total of homes, businesses and other property has been damaged this week by unrelenting storms stretching across Polk, Montgomery, Harris and other counties.

Thunderstorms will wrack the region throughout Saturday, and showers are likely on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Conditions along the Trinity River, which runs through Polk County, have become too dangerous for first responders to access, according to Polk County Emergency Management. Flooding has begun to encroach on subdivisions surrounding the lake to the East and West, evacuation crews began making their final calls for people seeking assistance.

Jones’ family home sat to the south of Lake Livingston, in the river bottoms of Coldspring, the San Jacinto County seat. It was overtaken by water shortly after the family left and Jones found safe harbor for their animals, his neighbors told him.

“We lost everything,” Jones said. “We lost everything we owned: beds, dressers, clothes, the kid’s toys.”

Continue reading this article here.

Why are reservoirs releasing water in flooded communities?

HOUSTON — Southeast Texas is used to heavy spring rains — but the widespread flooding that the region faced this week stands out because of just how much the rivers have risen.

Back-to-back storms drenched the area that includes Polk, Montgomery, Liberty and Harris counties, causing flash-flooding from heavy rain. That rain also filled creeks, rivers and reservoirs, creating a compounding, dangerous problem of too much water with nowhere to go but back out of the riverbanks.

Operators for three major reservoirs on rivers in the area have been on high alert as they deal with the slugs of water flowing into the man-made lakes. Part of their job is to calculate how much water to release downstream to protect the dams from failure, which would cause an even worse catastrophe than the swollen rivers.

Continue reading this article here.

Southeast Texas officials shore up plans ahead of long weekend of flooding

Local officials were shoring up plans to continue emergency rescue operations, evacuations and sheltering Friday night as meteorologists expect days of continued flooding in multiple Southeast Texas counties.

Rainfall will ease in southeast Texas, including Polk, Trinity, San Jacinto, Walker, and Grimes counties, but water will likely spill out of the area’s lakes and rivers, causing flooding that will continue into mid-next week, meteorologists said.

Polk County Judge Sydney Sweeney said the county will monitor the water levels it receives from the Trinity Water Authority, which feeds into Lake Livingston.

“It will be weeks before we know how much impact the rains had,” Sweeney said. “And it will be years before we recover. But right now, it’s a waiting game.”

In central Texas, the National Weather Service has extended its flash flood watch warning, anticipating another round of heavy storms. Though it’s unclear where the heaviest rainfall will occur, forecasters expect up to three additional inches of rain starting Saturday night and into Sunday.

Southeastern Montgomery and northeastern Harris counties are under an aerial flood warning reserved for areas at risk of additional gradual flooding. Meteorologists also said Liberty County is under the same warning.Harris County officials are beginning to prepare for recovery from the rains as they brace for more of it over the weekend, said Brian Murray, the county's emergency management coordinator.

"Unfortunately, it's not the first time we've had to do this," he said.

Shelters continue to be opened across the region. Harris County residents can check their address at the county's website.

— Carlos Nogueras Ramos

More than 200 rescues efforts in Montgomery County

Montgomery County has dispatched more than 200 water rescues in the last 24 hours, county officials said.

Neighborhoods in one of the fastest-growing counties in the state were flooded after heavy rain and excess water from Lake Conroe enveloped neighborhoods.

Officials on Friday were bracing for other portions of the county to be submerged next.

"The West Fork San Jacinto River has not crested yet and is still expected to rise," a spokesperson said. "So folks in those low-lying areas need to heed that warning and understand that potential significant flood event is still imminent for them and get the high ground.”

Montgomery County, which includes Conroe, sits between Polk and Harris counties. The three are among the hardest hit this week.

— Carlos Nogueras Ramos

Harris County leader warns: "It's going to get worse."

Harris County residents should prepare for an imminent threat to life and property, County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a news Friday.

Hidalgo said she has directed the office of emergency management's response to its highest form of readiness, centralizing the county's response.

"The weather is unpredictable, but [the rain] has fallen and it's on the way," Hidalgo said. "The threat is coming and it's going to get worse."

Hidalgo, the county's top elected official, has asked the county's residents to follow the guidance issued Thursday. Harris County is the third largest county in the U.S. and includes Houston.

The national weather service said more rain was on the way. Harris County could see up to an inch of more rainfall, which will accumulate on the floods already on the ground.

— Carlos Nogueras Ramos

Residents along San Jacinto River East Fork being being rescued from their roofs

Some residents along the San Jacinto River East Fork were being rescued from their roofs, Harris County Judge Lina Hildago posted on social media Friday afternoon.

In the latest update, Hildago also warned residents in that portion of the county that it was too late to evacuate and that they should be prepared to stay in place for at least two days.

AP: School bus carrying children northeast of Houston required a rescue

Officials said 26 people and 30 pets have been rescued from flood waters in the Houston area.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said a school bus carrying children northeast of Houston required a rescue after driving near high waters but that everyone on board was safe.

The Crosby school district said in a statement that the driver of a school bus carrying 27 students stopped his vehicle just before driving into high water. The students exited through a rear door and were taken to their campuses on another bus.

“I am proud of the quick action of our bus driver,” Crosby school district Superintendent Paula Patterson said in a statement.

— Associated Press

Here's how much rain has fallen in Southeast Texas counties in the last 72 hours

Forecasters expected to see more rainfall on Friday after at least a week of off-and-on rain. This afternoon, a storm is expected to reach Polk County, bringing additional rainfall that meteorologists expected would arrive tonight. The storm will move further west into Walker County, the national weather service said.

"Normally that rain wouldn't cause floods," a meteorologist told The Texas Tribune. "But because of the conditions in the last few days, plus the rivers, the rain will likely worsen the floods."

In the last 72 hours, there have been up to 14 inches of rain in Polk County, with the surrounding areas receiving 8-10 inches, the National Weather Service said. Montgomery County has been awash with up to 12 inches of rain. In Harris County, that number ranges from 4-7 inches of rain.

— Carlos Nogueras Ramos

“That whole area is covered up in water": Polk County continues under deluge

East Texas officials upheld mandatory evacuation orders for Polk County residents Friday morning, bracing for floods largely provoked by overflow from the multiple rivers in the region.

Meteorologists expect a lull in rainfall overnight but said flooding remains a concern because of the abundance of water flowing out of the rivers and creeks, worsening the flood conditions.

County officials said their focus was to monitor areas surrounding the Trinity River Basin, which they said are prone to exacerbated flooding because of their proximity to the continuing heavy discharges of water. In particular, officials are monitoring excess water flowing out of the Lake Livingston River Dam, which is adjacent to the city of Livingston.

“That whole area is covered up in water,” said Polk County Judge Sydney Sweeney. “And so some of that water is moving very, very quickly because of the amount of water that's coming out of the dam. You have pine trees that are underwater.”

Meteorologists said they expect rainfall to slow by nightfall Friday in East Texas. Most showers are expected to buffet harshly in counties north of Houston, including Montgomery and Harris Counties. Montgomery is the most populous county in the state.

Flash flood warning for Montgomery County and an early warning for Galveston Bay

Montgomery County should expect more downpours that could bring up to an inch of more rain, the National Weather Service said Friday. A meteorologist with the weather service also said the agency is monitoring areas surrounding Gavelston Bay, south of Houston.

“We’re also dealing with ongoing river flooding in that area as well, and so the runoff from all this rain we’re getting is going to impact that,” the national weather service said.

The area received about 5-8 inches of rain within 24 hours. Some areas received up to 12 inches of rain, the Associated Press reported Friday morning.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Thursday issued a disaster declaration for Harris County, which includes Houston, for communities close to the East Fork of the San Jacinto River to Lake Houston. Hidalgo in the declaration said residents should “evacuate as soon as possible” if they are in a place to do so.

“Residents should either plan to stay where they are for the next two days or leave as soon as possible if they are not prepared to do that,” Hidalgo said in the disaster declaration. That’s in addition to the mandatory evacuations issued for residents near Houston.

Texas Department of Transportation officials said State Highway 30, north of Montgomery County, was closed due to severe weather conditions on Thursday.

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