‘This is worse than Harvey’

Pct. 4 crews and Dayton firefighters work to remove a vehicle stuck in a ditch along CR 604 in Dayton during Tropical Storm Imelda. The vehicle was threatening the flow of water through storm drains. (Photo courtesy of Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson)

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

The flooding from Tropical Depression Imelda is creating a crisis in Liberty County where many of the roads are now underwater and more rain is in the forecast.

“This is worse than Harvey,” said County Pct. 4 County Commissioner Leon Wilson by phone around 9 a.m. Thursday.

Worsening conditions have prompted officials to order a shelter in place for all of Liberty County. The City of Dayton likewise ordered a shelter in place advisory for residents inside the city.

“Do not try to leave your house. Water is rising over the roadways and it’s becoming unsafe,” Wilson said.

Pct. 4 crews and Dayton firefighters work to remove a vehicle stuck in a ditch along CR 604 in Dayton. The vehicle was threatening the flow of water through storm drains. (Photo courtesy of Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson)

Dayton City Manager Theo Melancon said that Main Street, SH 321 and FM 1960 all are underwater at this time.

“Pretty much any street in the city is underwater right now. We know we have some flooding in our homes. We are doing high-water rescues at CR 4922 at FM 1413. County Road 604 is washing away, so we are working with the county to put out barricades,” Melancon said.

Dayton Volunteer Fire Department has sent over two high-water trucks and a fire engine to Liberty, where the high-water rescues kicked off earlier than in Dayton.

“We are stretched from CR 604 to the City of Liberty, but we are doing well and are responsive,” Melancon said. “We are getting preparations in place for a shelter if we need one, but we are hoping we won’t need it. Right now we have no idea how many homes are being flooded and how many residents are being impacted.”

To add to the misery for some Dayton residents, power is out at CR 604, CR
602 and Norcross Lane, he added.

According to Liberty Fire Chief Brian Hurst, the City of Liberty has coordinated
25 high-water rescues Thursday. Some of the evacuees are being taken to First United Methodist Church in Liberty where a temporary shelter has been established.

“The calls for help are coming in one after another. We have people with
water in their homes who need to be evacuated and we’re rescuing people stranded
in their vehicles,” he said.

Liberty firefighters launch a rescue boat to reach residents stranded by high water on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Liberty Fire Department)
Liberty firefighters began their rescue efforts early Thursday when rising water began creeping into residents’ homes. (Photo courtesy of Liberty Fire Department)

The flooding inside Liberty is widespread with some of the worst flooding
seen on Main Street, Cook Street, FM 563, Edgewood Street and Baker Circle. The
veteran fire chief says areas that typically do well in heavy rains are seeing

“I have never seen water like this, not even with Harvey. I think the Dodge
dealership has lost every vehicle in their inventory,” he said.

City Manager Tom Warner said the levee that protects the City of Liberty
from the Trinity when it is out of its banks is faring well in the storm, but
the pumps that drain the city are having trouble keeping up.

“The rain is coming down faster than we can pump it out. As long as we get
breaks in the rain, we can do a lot and try to catch up,” he said. “The problem
is the levee that protects the town from the river also forms a bowl. The river
right now is not an issue to us. It’s the rain.”

The Liberty shopping center where Family Dollar and Boot Barn are located is flooded in on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Liberty Fire Department)

The Cleveland area is experiencing similar conditions as its sister cities with US 59 pretty much shut down for travel, according to Cleveland Police Chief Darrel Broussard.

“We have a lot of water everywhere. North of town, behind the motel, we have a lot of homes that have 2 to 3 feet of water in them,” he said. “We have water over the intersection of FM 2025 at N. Washington and have about 3 to 4 abandoned vehicles there. We are moving those to Calvary Baptist Church if anyone is looking to claim them.”

Broussard said residents should not venture out in vehicles or on foot because of the unseen hazards.

“Do not drive in water where you cannot see the roadway. You should also not walk in this floodwater because you cannot see debris or ditches and could injure yourself or drown,” he said.

Bluebonnet News will continue to provide updates throughout the storm. Check back for updates. To see more reader-submitted images of the flooding in the county, go online to https://www.facebook.com/bluebonnetnews/

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