A flood warning remains in effect for Liberty County, but for residents in the low-lying riverfront subdivisions in northern Liberty County the river levels are dropping. As of Wednesday morning, the Romayor river gauge is at 33.19 feet, down from its highest level of roughly 39 feet.
Roads remain impassable in many low-lying riverfront communities except by high-profile vehicles, boats and other watercraft.
On Tuesday, residents in Sam Houston Lake Estates near Tarkington received a visit from Pct. 5 Constable David Hunter, who has made three trips by airboat during this flood event. On Saturday, he visited the communities of New River Lake Estates and Mason Lake Estates. Accompanying him for the trip Tuesday was Albert Crawford, a firefighter for Tarkington VFD.
“It’s not as bad as it was,” Hunter said, as he prepared to launch his airboat Tuesday near the main road leading into Sam Houston Lake Estates. “The fire department stuck a deuce and a half (a high-profile Army-style vehicle) down here last week trying to get to residents who wanted out. A woman called and wanted to go to the hospital. Then the truck got
stuck and she changed her mind.”
With roads impassable for his truck, Hunter called on residents this week by airboat. Hunter, who also assists the county with nuisance alligator calls, purchased the boat last year just in time for Hurricane Harvey.
“Many of the subdivisions that go underwater during the floods are in my precinct,” said Hunter. “I have New River, Sam Houston Lake Estates, Dayton Lake Estates, Mason Lake Estates and The Retreat in my area.”
Hunter said that most residents he has encountered in the flood zones appear to have wisely stocked up on supplies to see them through the flood event.
“A lot of these people don’t know any other life than this. They stock up on food and water and ride it out,” he said.
With rain in the forecast for the next few days, Hunter is hoping the river will have time to drop before more storms pass through.
John Colburn has lived in Sam Houston Lake Estates since the 1970s and says two flood events per year is the norm. The worst he has ever seen was last year with Hurricane Harvey.
“Water got right up to my porch but never got in the house,” he said.
Three generations of his family live on a parcel of land that sits between two water-lily covered lakes inhabited by alligators, mosquitoes, snakes, frogs and fish. His daughter’s mobile home, just a short walk down the driveway from Colburn’s house, took in water during Harvey, but the family added a couple more cinder blocks under the house to raise its elevation and prevent future flooding. This time, the house was spared.
For Southeast Texans like Colburn and his family, Harvey is the stick by which all storms will be measured for many years to come.
“Dang near everybody else had water in their houses during Harvey,” Colburn said of his community. “It wasn’t that bad this time. It didn’t even get in my yard. I got a doggone school bus over there and it was over the hood during Harvey. It didn’t come up that high this time.”
Colburn and his family know to prepare during flood events, so they are catching up on family time and TV viewing while they wait for the water to subside. Colburn owns a high-rise truck with 44-inch wheels, so getting children to and from their Tarkington ISD bus stop at a church further up the hill isn’t even an issue.
“This is normal for us,” he said.
Article and photos by Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org