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Galveston County swamped with rain as Texas officials warn of potential severe weather

September 12, 2018

A cluster of cars and news vans on Tuesday parked on the side of Pecan Drive in a rural section of Texas City to assess the flood damage from a storm system that dumped as many as 8 inches of rain in parts of southeast Texas..

The worst of the storm had already subsided and floodwaters that seeped into at least 15 Texas City homes had receded, but pools of water still completely inundated a handful of front lawns and driveways.

Around the corner on Edward Street, Marty Howell stood outside her small orange and green bungalow with a lush, blooming garden. Howell said that all but three houses flooded to at least ankle-high length, while the streets were blanketed with knee-deep water. Traces of Hurricane Harvey could still be found on this verdant street in the form of logs carried by the storm’s floodwaters and lodged on people’s lawns when the water receded, too heavy to move.

Howell said this is the fourth time in the last year the street has been flooded, including Harvey.

“We consider ourselves the drainage - the sink hole - of Texas City,” Howell said. “People are just now coming home (after Harvey) and we’re getting flooded again.”

Texas City is one of several locales in Galveston County swamped by rain over 12 hours — with more severe weather potentially headed towards the region later this week. The National Hurricane Center predicts a 70 percent chance that a weather disturbance in the Gulf becomes a tropical disturbance in the next five days.

Gov. Greg Abbott has urged Texans to exercise caution as the storm looks to be headed toward the Texas coast later this week. The storm has a 50 percent chance of forming into a tropical system within the next 48 hours, according to the hurricane center.

“In light of recent heavy rainfall across the state, we are on high-alert as any additional rain could quickly create dangerous flash flooding conditions,” Abbott said in a news release. “I urge all Texans to take precautions and review their emergency plans now to prepare for any potential impact to their community.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the storm was characterized as “a large area of disturbed weather” over the far northwestern Caribbean Sea and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. The system is gradually becoming better organized while producing strong gusty winds over the Yucatan Channel, the hurricane center reports.

Forecasters anticipate a tropical depression forming by Thursday as it moves across the western Gulf of Mexico. The storm’s early movement appears to be taking a similar path as Harvey , which has forced some local officials to take the storm more seriously.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said in a press briefing on Tuesday that while all signs point to the potential storm hitting land south of Houston, Harvey’s rapid development from a tropical depression to a Category 4 storm has many in the region on high alert.

“Obviously we’re not activated, but we’re monitoring it very closely,” Emmett said. “Particularly after last year, where it is in the Gulf, the other side of the peninsula, we’ve seen what happens when wind comes across and hits the warm water.”

A weekend tropical storm would cap an exceedingly wet week in southeast Texas, where the National Weather Service estimated almost 10 inches of rain over parts of Galveston and Brazoria counties. Roughly 6.36 inches of water fell in northeastern sections of League City over 12 hours, 5.67 inches were recorded in La Marque and 5.31 inches of rain were logged in Santa Fe.

The Texas City Independent School District and College of the Mainland canceled classes on Tuesday due to street flooding. School bus service was delayed for some routes in Clear Creek ISD and Dickinson ISD, although schools there remained open. In Galveston, the downtown trolley loop was also suspended due to street flooding.

The rain flooded several houses on Melody Drive in La Marque, a U-shaped street spitting distance from the I-45 Gulf Freeway, where water marks were visible on several garage doors.

Sofia Flores, a resident of Melody Drive, said the rain submerged almost their entire front lawn, forcing her and her husband to stay home from work and take their children out of school because of the flooding. With more rain expected through the night, Flores formulated a plan to park their cars on high ground just in case of more flooding.

“We’re planning to put the cars over there on that street so we can go to work in the morning,” Flores said.

Zach Despart, Samantha Ketterer, and Shelby Webb contributed to this report

nick.powell@chron.com

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