Voluntary evacuations underway in Harris, Montgomery counties



(The Center Square) – Voluntary evacuations are underway in Harris and Montgomery counties after flood warnings as Gov. Greg Abbott issued disaster declarations for 29 counties.

At a news conference on Tuesday night, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said residents living in an eastern part of Harris County near the San Jacinto River were under voluntary evacuation. In neighboring Montgomery County, voluntary evacuations were also called for residents living in the same area.

“We are expecting to see levels of street flooding over the next 24 hours similar to what we saw during Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019. We’re already seeing water from the river coming up onto land, and by midnight the neighborhoods near the East Fork of the San Jacinto River could see waist deep or even chest deep water. If you live in these areas and can evacuate, please do so. If you can’t, prepare to stay where you are for the next 24-36 hours and do not try to drive through high water,” Hidalgo said.

The National Weather Service announced the river was expected to crest at near 72 feet. Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management posted a map of the area saying it was expected to be “impacted by significant and rapid overnight flooding.”

The @HarrisCoJudge issued a voluntary call for evacuation for the subdivisions of Idlewild, Idle Glen and homes along the river in the Commons of Lake Houston. These areas will be impacted by significant & rapid overnight flooding. Read more:— Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (@ReadyHarris) May 1, 2024

It also said, “If residents in these areas are already seeing high water levels near their home, they should not try to evacuate so they do not drive through high water.”

“In addition to the areas under call for voluntary evacuation, residents who live in low-lying subdivisions along the river – in particular, Northwood Country Estates, River Terrace, Cypress Point, Kingwood Area or the Commons of Lake Houston – should stay in place until the water recedes, which is expected to take 24-36 hours.”

The National Weather Service warned of moderate-to-major river flooding across the eastern half of Texas continuing over the next few weeks. Severe weather and excessive rainfall is expected to cause flash flooding across Texas through the weekend. Other risks include large hail, damaging winds, and possible tornadoes.

Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 29 Texas counties impacted by severe storms and flooding that began last week.

“The State of Texas continues to provide support and assist communities who have been impacted by recent severe weather and flooding,” Abbott said. “This disaster declaration will swiftly provide Texans with all readily available resources needed to recover following storms and flood activity. As several counties in East Texas continue to face ongoing weather threats, Texans in at-risk areas should remain aware of their flood risk and take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones.”

The disaster declaration covers the counties of Baylor, Chambers, Dickens, Ellis, Freestone, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Haskell, Hill, Hood, Hunt, Kaufman, Knox, Leon, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Montgomery, Navarro, Polk, San Jacinto, Somervell, Tarrant, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, and Wichita counties.

Abbott also surged state agency resources to support local severe weather and flooding response operations.dition to multiple state agency resources.

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