Angelina River Closes Bridge - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

07/11/07 - Nacogdoches county

Angelina River Closes Bridge

by Donna McCollum

The Angelina River roars inches below the Goodman Bridge in western Nacogdoches County. It's difficult speaking over the rushing sound. The old iron on the bridge creaks and the bridge itself vibrates.  High water blocks roadways on each side.

Just yards away lives the Ecker family. They watched the river rise, faster than usual.  "That's what was so scary about it this time. Before it would always gradually rise. This time it came up all in one day. It was scary,"  said Diane Eker. Water is just a few feet from her front porch. She's concerned about snakes and fire ants escaping the flooded river bottom. She was glad to see the level is beginning to drop.

The road administrator and county commissioner remain concerned about structural damage to the bridge. Road administrator Doyle Williams has called in the state highway department to make an inspection.  "If the pilings been washed out and see if it's going to hold weight that it's been weighted for," are what inspectors will be looking for, said Williams.  

When the bridge is closed, business drops off for a nearby liquor store. The store closes at midday. A picture hangs near the counter showing the river over the bridge back in the 1980s. But even rising water can't keep some customers away. Manager Sheila Kelly said, "We had a man come in yesterday. He was like soaking wet from head to toe because of the current in the river being so strong. He bought his beer and turned around and went right back."  

Smart motorists are backing up and turning around, but a motorist from Cherokee county attempted to cross a flooded roadway to the west of the Goodman Bridge.  The pickup was swept downstream.  

Eker feared small children would be swept away after watching a family play in the river.  "They were letting them go on one side and letting the current carry them across to the other side and someone catch them on the other side and oh my gosh, I was just terrified," said the woman who closely watches a small toddler in her own family who she doesn't want to get too close to flood waters.

People should consider the risk to themselves and to the ones who come to their rescue. Commissioner Reggie Cotton said,  "We would like to consider the firemen, EMS coming out to a scene for something we may take for granted. " Safety is the number one concern today, and even after the Angelina returns to its normal depth.

Alternate routes are now Highway 7 west and Highway 21 west. Both lead from Highway 69 north.

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