Texans rescuing neighbors from floods after some areas see more than a foot of rain

Sep 19, 2019, 5:31 PM

Two men wade across 19th Street in Galveston, Texas. (Photo credit: CNN)...

Two men wade across 19th Street in Galveston, Texas. (Photo credit: CNN)

(Photo credit: CNN)

(CNN) — Remnants of former Tropical Depression Imelda are causing serious flooding in the suburbs of Houston Thursday, trapping people in homes and vehicles, spurring urgent rescues, and prompting warnings across southeastern Texas for people to stay indoors.

Flooding is most serious just north of Houston and to the east, including the city of Beaumont, where police said they’ve received hundreds of calls for rescues and were begging people not to drive because most roads were flooded.

Neighborhoods in east Houston were seeing flooding Thursday afternoon where people needed boats to rescue residents from their houses.

The storm, formerly a tropical storm and a tropical depression, has brought intense rain to southeastern Texas since Tuesday. Many places outside Houston have received more than 10 inches; parts of Jefferson County have seen more than 30; and another 5 to 10 inches of rain could come Thursday.

Recent developments include:

The Harris County Sheriff’s office tweeted that it had conducted 133 water rescues by noon CT.

Flights were being delayed at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday in part because roads around the airport were flooding.

• The National Weather Service urged residents of four Houston-area counties to stay indoors because of flash flooding. This included people in Montgomery, Liberty and Chambers counties, as well as northeastern Harris County, which includes the communities of Kingwood and Humble.

• In Jefferson County east of Houston, the Green Pond Gulley levee near Beaumont “is deteriorating and could break at any moment,” prompting an evacuation of the Gilbert Lake Estates area, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said. Some parts of the county had seen more than 20 inches of rain in the past 24 hours.

Desperation in Beaumont and elsewhere

In the Beaumont area of Jefferson County, some neighborhoods looked like lakes Thursday. Video posted by state game wardens showed rescuers in an airboat, speeding down covered streets to surrounded homes.

“The situation here is turning worse by the minute,” Michael Stephens, trapped by floodwaters at an apartment complex in the nearby city of Vidor, told CNN Thursday morning.

“People have snakes in their apartments from the creek. … (We) also have elderly disabled people stuck in their apartments.”

LIVE UPDATES

From inside, Stephens recorded video of people trudging through floodwater outside. He said for this area, the flooding seemed worse than he remembered from 2017’s deadly Hurricane Harvey.

In Beaumont, ankle-deep water had collected in the lobby of the Elegante Hotel, and more was coming in, video recorded by Lupe Torres on Thursday showed.

Beaumont police said the city received 12 to 20 inches of rain from Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, with more to come.

Floodwater poured into Beaumont TV station KBMT Thursday morning, forcing the news staff to move to their sister station in Houston, KHOU, to broadcast.

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott declared a state of disaster Thursday for 13 counties.

Drivers trapped on I-10 near Winnie

In the community of Winnie — between Houston and Beaumont — floodwaters intruded onto Interstate 10 and surface streets Thursday morning, trapping motorists on the highway and surrounding businesses. A photo on social media showed a truck almost submerged near a hotel.

Steve Castle told CNN floodwaters had him stuck in his truck on I-10 early Thursday.

“I was supposed to be driving back to Houston. I don’t think I’m going anywhere soon,” Castle said from his truck.

In Chambers County, which includes Winnie, at least 200 homes were taking on water, Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said. The sheriff’s office said it was reaching trapped people with high-water rescue vehicles and airboats.

High-water vehicles also were being used to evacuate several patients from the Winnie hospital, Constable Dennis Dugat told OnScene.TV.

Richard Tyson, waiting out the storm overnight in his bait and tackle shop, said he hasn’t seen flooding like this since Hurricane Harvey and in this community, he said, Thursday’s flooding might be worse.

More than a foot of water collected in his parking lot, and he cleared items off his floor in case the water comes in, he said.

“There’s no containing this (storm), brother. It’s doing what it wants,” Tyson said.

In Spring, north of Houston, Edward and his wife were returning home from after dropping their nephew at his house after school when they saw some ranchers, horses and passersby struggling in the floodwaters.

The couple pulled over and noticed everyone in the water was fighting to get the horses out, and in the process, one man was swept into the bushes by the current. Once the group was able to get the horses out safely, they went back in for the man and pulled him out as well.

Both the horses and people were all rescued.

More rain to come Thursday

The storm is in East Texas and slowly moving northeast. Flash flood watches are in effect Thursday more millions of people across East Texas and western Louisiana.

In Louisiana, the storm could bring 3 to 5 more inches of rain — with isolated amounts as high as 10 inches — on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

Still, the city may receive more than 12 inches of rain before the storm is over, and some streets have flooded.

Comparing rainfall from Harvey and Imelda

Imelda is causing some of the most serious flooding in southeastern Texas since Hurricane Harvey, which created major problems in August 2017.

Generally, Harvey, which claimed dozens of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage, dropped more rain than Imelda.

Harvey broke the US record for rainfall from a single storm, dumping more than 60 inches about 90 miles east of Houston. Harvey left 34 inches of rain at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and more than 40 inches in areas east of the city.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Winter conditions...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Here’s what to expect as remnants of California blizzard head to Utah

Much of Utah is under a winter weather advisory as remnants of California's blizzard heads to Utah. Wind and cold temperatures on the way.

22 minutes ago

food pantries...

Heather Peterson

Food pantries running low due to spike in demand

According to Feeding America, 316,980 people are facing hunger in Utah, and 93,050 are children.

43 minutes ago

Now hiring sign...

PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

US economy grew solid 3.2% in fourth quarter, a slight downgrade from government’s initial estimate

Far from stumbling, the economy grew 2.5% for all of 2023, topping the 1.9% growth in 2022.

1 hour ago

baby feet, utah postpartum retreat helps new moms...

Britt Johnson

Utah company aims to help postpartum moms with special retreats

The founder of Utah Postpartum Retreat said she thinks new moms are at high risk for developing postpartum mood disorders because they lack support.

2 hours ago

Example of a possible future salvage project on Lake Powell....

Derrick Jones

Lake Powell asks for public’s help locating possible salvage

Park officials want to know where sunken vessels were seen as Lake Powell reached record low levels.

2 hours ago

Power lines are pictured in utah, utah has lower electricity bill than other states...

Tammy Kikuchi

Study shows Utahns pay cheapest electricity bills in the country

Utah residents are paying less for power than any other state. Rocky Mountain Power says they work hard to keep it that way.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Texans rescuing neighbors from floods after some areas see more than a foot of rain