Texas

ABC-7 in East Texas: EPPD, emergency evacuations, and stranded livestock

Homes destroyed from flooding in East Texas

Houston, TX -
ABC-7 sent two reporters to east Texas to follow El Pasoans as they help stranded residents in the Harvey-devastated area.
 
Here is their reporter log.
 
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2017
 
GOOD MORNING EL PASO
 
Wednesday before dawn, Evan and Julio caught up with El Paso Police officers in Katy, just west of Houston. After quickly deploying early in the week, they were still standing by to receive their assignment.
 
"We're just trying to hash things out," said Sgt. Robert Gomez. "We know that these things are chaotic and difficult so we all have to be a little patient to get our marching orders and then we'll do whatever we need to do to lend a hand."
 
All volunteers -- 31 officers, 4 sergeants, 1 lieutenant -- traveled more than 700 miles to provide relief to their fellow law enforcement agents.
 
Patience may be hard to find when you know there is so much need, so close.
 
 
Hours later, EPPD officers were given their assignment: help provide security at the NRG Center. The mega-shelter has capacity for 10,000 and opened overnight. By dawn, more than 1,000 evacuees were already there.
 
 
ABC-7 AT NOON
 
As they tried to catch up with the six El Paso Fire Department divers working water rescues near Beaumont, Evan and Julio hit a roadblock on I-90. Car after car, miles of vehicles stopped. The highway began to flood. As Evan was reporting, a line of emergency vehicles with sirens blaring rushed by.
 
 
The emergency vehicles were headed to Arkema, a chemical plant in Crosby, about 25 miles northeast of Houston.
 
Arkema president and chief executive Rich Rowe said the plant is dealing with 6 feet of water. Part of the plant is on fire and there is no power, which can lead to an explosion. 
 
"We have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire," said Rich Rowe.
 
Arkema makes organic peroxides.
Officials have evacuated the plant and homes within 1.5 miles of the plant.
 
ABC-7 AT FOUR
 
As Evan and Julio tried to find a way around the blockage on I-10, they came upon an even more severe flooding on FM 1942. Stranded on the road were people with horse trailers.
 
They said they were on their way to rescue a group of horses and cows that had been standing in the floodwaters since the storm hit. They described one horse as "exhausted," and the watermark on the white horse reached above its chest.
 
 
ABC-7 AT FIVE
 
The flooded road is full of people trying to reach areas under water to help, or with people trying to evacuate. In Crosby, families were told they had one hour to leave as the chemical plant could explode due to flooding, a fire and lack of critical power to keep the chemicals at low temperature.
 
With water shin-high, our reporters saw members of one family walking back and forward from the home to their trucks trying to salvage what they could -- televisions, boxes, clothes -- making heart-wrenching decisions on what they must leave behind. "How do you prioritize?" Evan Folan asked. Here's their answer:
 
ABC-7 AT SIX
 
With waters still high in east Texas, medical teams are being dispatched to care for stranded animals and dealing with challenges not found when dealing with people.
 
"we're going to have to assess what we have going on and we may have to tranquilize them lightly and just step them easily into the water and we're going to swim them out of here," a veterinarian told ABC-7.
When they got to the horses, the situation was dire. ABC-7's Julio Cesar Chavez shows you why:
 
"When we got in there, their noses, everything, was in the water. They were just gurgling," said a rescuer.
 
"They were so exhausted because they need to hang their head to go to sleep and they hadn't slept for seven days and they were just literally in the water so we were picking their heads up, holding them up out of the water, and we just got them on the boat because I just thought, 'we gotta go."
 
ABC-7 AT TEN
"It's been an emotional day," a Liberty County deputy told ABC-7. His county has about 75,000 residents, almost the size of Las Cruces, and sits between Houston and Beaumont. 
 
And after his community was overwhelmed by floodwaters, a team of firefighters passing through his community on their way east stopped for hours to perform rescues.
 
They were the men of the El Paso Fire Department, and this is what he said about them:
 

 
Stay with ABC-7 as reporters Evan Folan and Julio-Cesar Chavez document the work of El Pasoans helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and tell stories of people living in the flood zone.