Tropical Storm Harvey: boat rescues, floodgate and dam releases in East Texas

Tropical Storm Harvey: boat rescues, floodgate and dam releases in East Texas
Source: Game Warden Justin Eddins
Source: Game Warden Justin Eddins

JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Serious flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey began in Jasper County Wednesday evening and only got worse. Law enforcement and Texas Game Wardens immediately responded to calls from people trapped in flooded cars or even houses.

In other parts of East Texas, Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette issued a stern warning for those in the path of rising river water after floodgates were opened Wednesday afternoon.

"All residents living in Mt. Neches, Barlow Lake Estates, Works Bluff on CR 4415, Sheffield Ferry and Bottom Loop-CR 4700 who have not already evacuated must do so immediately. Anyone who chooses to not heed this directive cannot expect to be rescued and should write their social security numbers in permanent marker on their arm so their bodies can be identified. The loss of life and property is certain.


The message was posted on the Tyler County Emergency Management Facebook page.

The US Army Corp of Engineers opened the floodgates at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

According to Blanchette, river levels will rise up to 82 feet.

In Jasper, city officials were also forced to release water from the Angelina and Neches river dam, near the B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir. The water was almost spilling over the dam, when the decision was made. Not only will this add to the record amount of water created by Harvey, but more houses will be in danger of flooding. According to Justin Eddins with the Texas Game Wardens, rescue boats will continue to be sent out.

"Taking people off the water, out of their houses who woke up and had flooded homes," said Eddins. "It basically went all night. I've seen all kinds of things. We've seen young people and young children. We even had an infant that we helped take out of a house, that was flooded."

Many of the people picked up were sent to shelters, originally set up for flood victims farther south of Jasper.

"It's scary not knowing what's happened to not only my things, and my stuff, but what's happened to everybody else," said Vera guy, a Jasper citizen. "I've got family all over we all do. I pray and hope that everything's fine when they go home, boy, but I know that's not going to be true."

The emergency operations center, in downtown in Jasper, has been working since well before Harvey even made landfall and will stay open for as long as its necessary. Jasper County Judge, Mark Allen, was one of the people answering phone calls.

"We're still not even sure where [Harvey] wants to go yet, but we're trying to get [Harvey] out to close the doors and focus on taking care of all our infrastructure, all our people, after the water begins to recede," said Allen.

City officials and local law enforcement advise people, even people looking to help rescue those in flooded areas, to obey road closures and not to drive over rushing water.

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