The tropical disturbance that dumped 10 inches of rain in Wharton County within hours Wednesday brought on closed roads, car crashes and high water rescues keeping law enforcement and emergency management personnel busy long after the rains fell.
From 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office responded to 14 vehicle crashes and conducted nine high water rescues, according to Sheriff Shannon Srubar. Approximately 35 roads were reported to have water over them, which led to the majority of them being closed.
“This number is most likely very conservative because not every road that had water over it was called in,” Srubar said.
One particular water rescue became serious to which WCSO, Wharton and Boling fire departments and game wardens responded.
“The information that we received was that an elderly couple was trapped inside a vehicle with water up to the rooftop of the truck. After a struggle to get to the vehicle with rushing water, it was determined that the couple was not in the vehicle. Many resources came together to assist during the 24-hour (rain) event,” Srubar said.
The SO had a Texas Search & Rescue Team stationed in Wharton County that included a high water rescue vehicle, three boats and several Hummers. The team made a routine patrol through high water areas to offer help to anyone who needed assistance, and was released Thursday morning.
“I am very proud of the deputies and dispatchers that worked tirelessly during this event. Even as some of their homes were being threatened and damaged, they continued to put the safety of Wharton County citizens first,” Srubar said.
Andy Kirkland, Emergency Management Coordinator for Wharton County, said rainfall totals varied from six to 13 and a half inches in the county.
“It was pretty intense. You get that type of rain, and I don’t care where you are, you will flood,” Kirkland said.
Flood stage for the San Bernard River near Boling is 18 feet. By Thursday, the river crested at 39 and a half feet, a few feet less than it crested during Hurricane Harvey. Kirkland expected the river to stay at that level and slowly begin to drop down that evening.
“East Bernard got a lot of rain. A lot of water went into the San Bernard River, and it is susceptible to quick changes. It is way out of bounds of its banks,” Kirkland said Thursday.
To his knowledge, no one in that part of the county stayed in shelters. The county encouraged those residents to evacuate.
“Most folks know that river well and stayed with family and friends,” Kirkland said.
“Now we go from worrying about rainfall to the heat indexes because people are going to try to clean up and it is going to be hot,” Kirkland added.
The county’s office of emergency management is trying to get damage assessment done as soon as possible, Kirkland said.
“We did sign a disaster declaration for Wharton County. That opens the way for us, and if we qualify, we could get help from the state and federal governments.”
To report damage, call the county’s emergency management office at 979-532-1123. If you get a recording, leave your name, address, telephone number and a brief description of the damage.