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East Texas officials discuss conditions after substantial rainfall

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 8:39 PM CDT
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JASPER/TYLER COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Governor Greg Abbott has issued a Disaster Proclamation for Jasper, Newton and Tyler Counties following significant flooding.

“We’ve been doing recovery efforts,” Jasper County Judge Mark Allen said. “We’ve been doing a few search and rescue efforts. Monday motorists were stranded. We had a lot of close calls, but we have no injuries or deaths reported at this time.”

Though some of those flooded areas have begun to recede, Allen said numerous homes and businesses were flooded and roads damaged. Sandbags and disaster cleanup kits are available to residents. There are also search and rescue crews on standby for Jasper County and surrounding areas.

“They’re ready just in case we get any rainfall in the next couple of days,” Allen said. “We’re just trying to be prepared in case we get another one of those 15-17-inch rainfall situations again.”

Waterways have risen. Earlier this week, Tyler County officials recommended a voluntary evacuation of several areas that typically flood, some along the Neches River, which County Judge Jacques Blanchette says is the standard with potential flooding situations.

“Depending upon the amount of rain we’ve experienced that adjustment has been made and those residents have been displaced have been provided for some shelter at the Woodville Inn which is operated by the Red Cross,” Blanchette said. “They’re also operating a canteen of food service to those residents.” (Blanchette)

Both the Angelina and Neches Rivers flow into the Town Bluff Dam and B.A. Steinhagen Lake along the Jasper/Tyler County line. Earlier this week, gates were opened to pass high inflow from the Neches River upstream into the Lake.

“Right now, here at Town Bluff, we’re passing the water that’s coming down,” Lake Manager Floyd Boyett said. “We’re not designed to have any flood control capability here at this lake.”

Boyett said that’s where the Sam Rayburn Reservoir comes into play with the Angelina River.

“Both Town Bluff and Sam Rayburn, Corps of Engineers Lakes, are functioning as they were designed,” Boyett said. “Up at Sam Rayburn, they’re holding the floodwater back on the Angelina for now. They will eventually be turning that water loose once conditions on the Neches do improve.”

Town Bluff is known as re-regulation reservoir that allow pulses of water from upstream to flow steady downstream.

“Downstream, the folks are seeing the exact same amount of water they would be seeing even if the lake wasn’t here because we’re simply letting out what comes in,” Boyett said. “The downstream folks are seeing really only about 50% of the floodwater that they would be seeing if Rayburn wasn’t holding that water back.”

In Jasper County tonight, State Highway 63 west of FM 1747 is closed in both directions because of an emergency repair after flooding damaged the roadway. Repairs are expected to take at least three days, weather permitting.

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