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Harvey catastrophe hits historic Texas town with third straight record flood

Brazos River flooding forces Richmond residents to evacuate homes

RICHMOND, Texas – After decades of being recognized as one of the oldest small towns in Texas, Richmond recently has been known to be the community that has seen record-setting flooding in the past three straight years.

As Tropical Storm Harvey loomed on the direct path toward the town -- 30 miles southwest of Houston --Richmond officials issued mandatory evacuation orders this past Saturday for areas prone to flooding caused by the Brazos River.

Running through the heart of the small town less than 13,000 people, officials expected the Brazos River to be heavily affected by Harvey, anticipating the river to rise well above last year’s record flooding of 54.7 feet.

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Lowell Neinast, a spokesperson with Richmond Police Department, said almost every neighborhood that hugs the Brazos River is barricaded off and evacuations remain in place as they anticipate even more water coming downstream and into their town.

“We’re seeing another record flood (and) this our third year to receive flood waters from the Brazos and each year it’s going up. Right now, we’re at 55 feet, which beat last year’s (flood) record of 54.7 and still creeping up,” Neinast said.

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“It’s hard for people to understand since there’s no rain, however, our river doesn’t come up because of the rain here, it comes up because of the rains north of us,” Neinast said.

Neinast said the Brazos River is not the only culprit in the major flooding, but also the nearby creeks and streams that help the river rise to the level of major flood stage. 

“The (Brazos) river is predicted to crest at 56 feet, and right now we’re a little bit of 55 feet and what you’re looking at is pretty close to what we’re going to get. What damage is done is done,” Neinast said.

For Richmond officials and residents, the town had to deal with a two-headed beast in Harvey as the destruction arrived in two different phases of the storm.

“We were kind of dealing with two different events: You had the storm come through which produced rain and caused localized street flooding, and then of course as our streets were flooding, you had the (Brazos) river coming up from all the other rain,” Neinast said.

A Texas neighborhood in Richmond near Houston is having to deal with yet another record flood for the third straight year. Meteorologist Kaiti Blake and Adrian Garcia are live to explain how much more water is expected and what's ahead for these residents #KSATnews

Posted by KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Friday, September 1, 2017

Despite the heartbreaking images of Harvey’s destruction in the town he’s lived in for 15 years, Neinast said Richmond is grateful to have residents who cooperated with evacuations, limiting the number of water rescues in this year’s record-setting flood.

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“I think the one thing that sticks out is how well-prepared we are this time and I think we were pretty well-prepared. Our citizens know what to do and I think that says a lot about them and the city of Richmond,” Neinast said.

“We know there’s nothing we can do about Mother Nature, so, let's deal with it, let's get ahead of it, and let's make it work and that’s what we’ve done,” Neinast said.

agarcia@ksat.com

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