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Newton County Judge declares emergency for weather threat

NEWTON -- Liberty County Judge Truman Dougharty has declared a local state of disaster because of an "imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property resulting from county-wide conditions created by torrential rainfall over an excessive period of time, affecting Newton county by causing river flooding in populated areas as well as major infrastructure damage preventing access to or the safe passage on many roadways."


The declaration says he has determined that extraordinary measures must be taken to protect or rehabilitate property are necessary.

 

Daugherty told KFDM news that with a new forecast on coming rains and the with the amount of water coming through the Toledo Bend dam, that river at Deweyville is going to rise faster than they thought.  "We have to be ready to help the Commissioner Leonard Powel and the people down there if the river comes up fast."

 

He said Billy Ted Smith, the county's emergency coordinator had been working with the weather service and "with all the water coming down the river and the new forecast for torrential rains," Daugherty decided to take action on a state of disaster now. 


"I can do it for 7 days on my own authority.  We have a Commissioners Court meeting Wednesday, we can extend it if we need.


He said the county and Commissioner Powell were ready with sandbag operations "to protect as much property as we can."

 

The Toledo Dam, operated by the Sabine River Authority has been opening gates to let out water coming down the river  from heavy rains in North Texas and North Louisiana.  "That is not a flood-control dam, they can't hold the water when it gets to 172 feet."

 

One piece of good news is that in recent years, the county bought out the homes on River Road below the dam.  Those houses faced flooding anytime heavy rains forced the SRA to open gates wide.  "We had to go in and get them out by boats," Judge Daugherty said.

 

He said they had tried to get federal grants for years to buy out the homes but never qualified.  "When Rita came we already had our Hazard Mitigation plan prepared and we worked with the SRA.  They got theirs together quickly and helped us with the 25 percent match.  We were one of the first in the state to get those grants and that was used to buy out those home on River Road."

 

On Wednesday, with the Lake at 173.12 ft. msl, the SRA raised the dam's release rate another 11,000 cubic feet per second to 48,894 cfs.


Currently the SRA has six gates open at 4 feet and 3 gates open at 3 feet and it releasing 50,094 cfs

Liberty County official: no evacuation expected

LIBERTY -- A top emergency official for Liberty County trying to calm fears, says "If you do not live near the river, or plan to travel near the river, you will not be affected by the flood waters from the Trinity River."

Recent storms have caused some flooding in low-lying areas near the river.  Heavy rains have be forecast over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Tom Branch, coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security for Liberty County says in a new release "There are no evacuation orders in effect at this time and none expected.

Branch says his office has received many calls received many calls regarding current and expected conditions and he is addressing htem.

  • There have been no levee breaches that will affect the public in Liberty County and all main highways remain open,with no main road closures anticipated.
  • There is no expected increase in the release from Lake Livingston over the next 24-48 hours.
  • We have not received any reports of homes being flooded at this point, however,many are surrounded by water and residents have indicated they intend to stay put as many houses along the river are elevated on stilts. As expected, roads in many of these riverfront subdivisions are flooded as well.
  • There are no evacuation orders in effect at this time and none expected. Residents are free to stay or leave if they like, no restrictions on movement.
  • No shelters are open at this time.
  • If you do not live near the river or plan to travel near the river, you will not be affected by the flood waters from the Trinity River.

Branch added: "With all that said, we continue to urge residents to monitor conditions within their neighborhoods along the Trinity River. Once again we ask residents that do not want to stay in their homes for any reason and plan to leave, to make moves during daylight hours, movement around flooded areas during nighttime hours is very dangerous.

"This will be an extended high water event and it will be some time before flood waters recede,however,things appear to be stabilizing for the next day or so.

"We are monitoring weather forecast that are indicating the possibility for excessive rainfall in our region on Sunday and Monday and we ask residents to keep abreast of local media reports concerning the weather this weekend. 

"Also if you want to receive emergency messages on your cell phone from our office, free of charge, text your zipcode to 888777 and this will register your cell phone to receive text messages from our office."

Report: Biker threats against Texas law officers

WACO --  CNN is reporting that members of the Banditos biker gang have ordered revenge against Texas troopers and other officers.


The news outlet said the information came from a bulletin issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.


The threats including running over officers at traffic stops and the use of grenades and Molotov cocktails and more, the CNN's report said.
According to the report, possible target locations include Dallas, Houston, Austin, Corpus Christi and El Paso.


Nine bikers were killed on Sunday at the Twin Peaks Waco restaurant during a shootout.

Fuel spill in Kountze reroutes traffic

KOUNTZE -- Police in Kountze today urged drivers to avoid Hwy 96 at Crosby due to a gas spill.

The picture is from our media partner, the Lumberton Ledger.  Kountze police say gas came out of the ground.

It's a small pubblic near the Exxon curb. As of now, police don't know how it happened.

Chief Slaughter says about 75 gallons spilled.

TCEQ was on the scene and one lane was shut down. 

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