Though Hurricane Harvey’s highest-volume rainfall has passed for the most part, parts of East Texas and the Gulf Coast are still in immediate danger. In Tyler County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to open the floodgates of Steinhagen Reservoir to prevent a complete failure of the flood control dam. Water is filling the reservoir faster than Dam B can be drained, even after Wednesday’s controlled release of water at 50,000 cubic feet per second.
The Army Corps’ only option was to open the floodgates completely—which will raise the level of the Neches River to nearly 80 feet by the time it reaches Beaumont, creating what the authorities describe as a “catastrophic” wall of water. The Neches River will combine with other Harvey runoff, adding an additional 2 feet of water, before it drains into the Port of Beaumont into the sea. The Neches is predicted to reach its peak height in Beaumont at 1 pm, 16 feet above the flood stage. The previous record was 9 feet above the flood stage in 1994.
To Areas of Evacuation: Do Not Expect Rescue After Floodgates Open
Judge Jacques Blanchette has urged the residents of Mt. Neches, Barlow Lake Estates, Works Bluff on CR 4415, Sheffield Ferry, and Bottom Loop-CR 4700 to evacuate immediately. In a message posted to the Tyler County Emergency Management Facebook page, the judge wrote that residents who stay cannot expect to be rescued and should take precautions to make identifying their bodies easier for recovery teams.
The message concluded with a straightforward command: “GET OUT OR DIE!”