the republic logo

Officials monitor river levels in Texas, with focus on Houston area

bug
Share/Save/Bookmark

HOUSTON — Officials are closely monitoring the levels of rivers in Texas engorged by the deluge of last weekend.

The Colorado River in Wharton and the Brazos and San Jacinto Rivers near Houston are the focus of attention for officials as floodwaters from North and Central Texas move downstream toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise as search teams dig through debris piles along rivers that raged through Central Texas and the Houston area. Bodies found in Hays and Blanco counties raised the confirmed death toll Thursday to at least 24, with 20 in Texas alone, and at least 14 more still missing.

The flood threat appeared to have eased along the Brazos River in North Texas, where it fell below flood stage Thursday night at Horseshoe Bend in Parker County.

But officials would continue to watch for any effects from Thursday night rains in the vicinity of Possum Kingdom Lake, said Parker County Emergency Management spokesman Joel Kertok.

The river level at Horseshoe Bend had fallen below the 21-foot flood stage to 20.9 feet Thursday night after the Brazos River Authority closed the floodgates on the Possum Kingdom dam upstream, Kertok said. The river crested at 23.6 feet about noon Thursday, almost 3 feet above flood stage, and Kertok said floodwaters lapped at the foundations of 11 homes but rose no further before beginning to recede.

But the worst is yet to come downstream on the Brazos. At Richmond, near Houston, where flood stage is 48 feet, the National Weather Service expected the river to top flood stage Friday morning and rise to 50 feet by late Friday night or Saturday. That would cause major flooding in Simonton, upstream from Richmond, and Thompsons downstream. Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls says residents of some parts of Simonton have been asked to leave.

The Colorado River at Wharton, where voluntary evacuations were underway in the city's low-lying west side, was at 39.5 feet Thursday night, a half-foot over flood stage. Forecasters say it could crest at 44 to 45 feet Saturday morning, causing major flooding.

PHOTO: A house built on tall piers is surrounded by flood water from the San Jacinto River Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Kingwood, Texas. Although the deadly thunderstorms that lashed much of Texas have tapered off, many cities were still in danger of flooding Thursday as heavy rain from earlier in the week poured downstream, swelling rivers.  (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
A house built on tall piers is surrounded by flood water from the San Jacinto River Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Kingwood, Texas. Although the deadly thunderstorms that lashed much of Texas have tapered off, many cities were still in danger of flooding Thursday as heavy rain from earlier in the week poured downstream, swelling rivers. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

The West Fork of the San Jacinto River was at 32 feet Thursday night, 8 feet above flood stage and was expected to remain in major flood for several days.

This week's record rainfall in Texas eased the state's drought and swelled rivers and lakes to the point that they may not return to normal levels until July, scientists said Thursday.

Just weeks ago, much of the state was parched with varying levels of drought. But the same drenching rainfall that paralyzed parts of Houston and swept away a vacation home with eight people inside also offered relief from a long dry spell.

Many cities were still in danger of flooding as heavy rain from earlier in the week poured downstream, pushing rivers over their banks.

"There's so much water in Texas and Oklahoma that it's going to take quite a while for those rivers to recede," said Mark Wiley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Fort Worth, Texas.

If normal amounts of precipitation return, rivers will probably drop to average levels by the Fourth of July, he said.

"Six months ago, we were dying for this stuff," he said. "And now we're saying, 'Please, please stop.'"


Lozano reported from Houston and Robbins from Wimberley.


Associated Press journalists David Warren, Jamie Stengle and Terry Wallace in Dallas; John L. Mone in Wimberley; and Joshua Replogle in Houston contributed to this report.


Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/juanlozano70 .

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

Story copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.


Video:
PHOTO: Many residents living in the northeastern part of Houston have been recommended to evacuate ahead of anticipated flooding from the San Jacinto River. (May 28)
Many residents living in the northeastern part of Houston have been recommended to evacuate ahead of anticipated flooding from the San Jacinto River. (May 28) PHOTO: In Central Texas, crews continued searching for eight people feared dead after the swollen Blanco River smashed through Wimberley, a small tourist town between San Antonio and Austin, over the Memorial Day weekend. (May 28)
In Central Texas, crews continued searching for eight people feared dead after the swollen Blanco River smashed through Wimberley, a small tourist town between San Antonio and Austin, over the Memorial Day weekend. (May 28)
We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Category:

Follow The Republic:

All content copyright ©2015 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.