Knight: Liberty County will file local disaster declaration due to Imelda flooding

Liberty County Judge Jay Knight, in this file photo, addresses a packed 75th District Courtroom for the swearing-in ceremony in January 2019.

By Vanesa Brashier,

Storm-weary residents of Liberty County, some still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, are flooding again thanks to Tropical Depression Imelda.

Liberty County Judge Jay Knight says county officials are still assessing the damage caused by the storm overnight, but he predicts that Liberty County will declare a local disaster. The declaration will kick in relief efforts from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Knight said the worst of the flooding at this time appears to be in Plum Grove, Cleveland and Devers.

“There have been requests for high-water rescues. Emergency responders couldn’t get there until daylight, so we are still waiting to evaluate just how bad things are,” he said. “Flooding from this storm appears to have come faster than with Hurricane Harvey, which was a slow dump of rain over a few days. This was a really, really quick dump of rain.”

Knight estimates that some parts of Liberty County have seen as much as 20 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

As the sun comes up, county commissioners and their employees are assessing the damage in their individual precincts, Knight said, so he hopes to have a clearer picture of the devastation sometime later Thursday.

SH 146 to the north of Moss Hill is clear and US 90 between Dayton and Liberty is still open, but other routes are seeing water over the roadways. With more rain still falling, Knight is encouraging residents to stay home if at all possible.

“Please don’t get on the roads. If you have an emergency, a true emergency, call 911,” he said. “If you need rescuing, call 911. If you have other questions about flooding, call the Liberty County Office of Emergency Management.”

Some local churches are setting up shelters for residents who have been displaced by flooding. Calvary Baptist Church in Cleveland announced on Facebook that it will be assisting residents; however, right now it has no power.

The County has no plans to open a shelter. The county-owned Jack Hartel Building in Liberty is a first responder shelter and is currently being used to house State Guard personnel responding to flooding in the Beaumont area.

“We are not a shelter county, so we do not have any county facilities for sheltering. That will be up to other groups that offer shelters,” Knight said.

With more rain in the forecast through Friday, the response will be ongoing, he said.

“Liberty County residents are a resilient bunch. I want people to know that our county services will be provided as soon as possible. We will be here to help,” he said.

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