‘Worse than Harvey’: Small Houston-Area Town Floods in Imelda Aftermath

Hundreds of people have been rescued from their homes in Chambers County as floodwaters from the aftermath of Tropical Storm Imelda — which officials fear may be "worse than Harvey" — continued on Thursday to inundate the region, where authorities were also forced to evacuate a hospital.

Source: Houston Chronicle | Published on September 20, 2019

Closeup of high water flooding on neighborhood street.

Ryan Holzaepfel, Chambers County's fire marshal, said that by 2 p.m., authorities had rescued about 300 people since the start of Tuesday’s storm. The brunt of them, about 250, were rescued on Thursday, he said.

A shelter at East Chambers High School is hosting around 109 people and a second shelter may be established if that number grows. The majority of rescues, Holzaepfel said, were from people unable to escape their homes because of the floodwater caused by the remnants of the tropical storm.

High water flows along feeder at Splendora

Media: Houston Chronicle

Authorities have also brought six horses and 25 pets, dogs and cats, to safety.

Authorities from the U.S. Coast Guard and city of Baytown, as well as volunteers with boats, are pitching in with rescues, he said.

The deluge of rain started Tuesday night as the storm made landfall and has continued through Thursday, causing parts of Highway 124 to fill with at least 4 feet of water, Holzaepfel said. The storm has also produced at least 100 emergency calls, but there were no immediate reports of injuries, the fire marshal continued.

About 800 homes in the Winnie and Stowell area may be experiencing high water, he said.

According to the National Weather Service, about 7 inches of rain fell near Mont Belvieu from Wednesday to Thursday afternoon, while 10 inches was recorded near Anahuac .

The high water left Denise Broussard, 62, and her husband unable to leave their new home of two months as three feet of water surrounded the property about 10 miles northeast of Winnie, nearby in Jefferson County.

The couple also spotted a large alligator that surfaced near their porch.

“There’s a big one. And maybe a couple more,” said Broussard. “I think he’s under the house now.”

Her husband went outside to check the levels and spied the six-foot invader in their yard along Highway 365, across from Gator Country — a 15-acre alligator preserve.

“He called me, ‘Come see, come see,’” he husband told her. “All I could see was the humongous head. Oh, my Lord. How are we going to get out of here?”

As the water rose overnight, about five to six patients from the Riceland Healthcare hospital also in Winnie, Chambers County Precinct 1 Constable Dennis Dugat said.

"The hospital flooded, so we have to get them out," Dugat said.

Atascocita Fire brought their high-water rescue vehicles to move the patients to another hospital, Dugat said.

Mo Danishmund, chief financial officer for Riceland Healthcare, said the hospital had received several inches of rain.

This didn't happen to us during Harvey, and also this came out of nowhere," he said. "(This) is worse than Harvey," Danishmund said. "We're just going to hang in there."

Tropical Storm Imelda was downgraded this week after it made landfall near Freeport and continued to batter parts of Houston and southeast Texas with heavy rainfall. The storm is near Beaumont, according to the National Weather Service.