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Trinity River Bottom Residents Brace For Predicted Flooding With PM-Floods, Bjt

May 11, 1990

DAYTON, Texas (AP) _ Each day, water from a small nearby lake edges closer to Elaine Coward’s home. Once it reaches her driveway, she’s leaving.

″There’s nowhere for it to go but to head for the Gulf,″ said Ms. Coward, who hopes to avoid the expected flooding from waters rampaging down the Trinity River. ″But it’s got to run over us first.″

The flooding has resulted from last week’s heavy rain that inundated north Texas, more than 200 miles away. The waters are heading south down the Trinity, making their way into Lake Livingston and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

But many communities sit in its path, including the Liberty-Dayton area, about 40 miles east of Houston, where residents have been told they may be hit with the worst flooding in 80 years.

Some dirt roads already are covered with water, but the real flooding isn’t expected until early next week.

Already, many residents threatened by flood waters have moved their belongings to higher ground and made plans to stay elsewhere.

At Ms. Coward’s home, which she has owned for 12 years, the furniture is up on blocks. Clothes, important documents and mementos have been moved into a trailer where she will live temporarily if her home is flooded.

″It’s hard to accept the fact that the water is going to come into your home,″ she said Thursday, a mild, sunny day in southeast Texas. ″It’s heartbreaking.″

Last July, her home was flooded by heavy rains, causing $7,000 worth of damage. It took four months to repair the house.

Now, she keeps an eye on the water that has creeped to the edge of her yard. Once it reaches her driveway, she said she knows it is time to take the dog and leave.

The potential flooding is the talk of this town of about 6,000 residents, even though many are not expected to be hurt by the flooding.

″If they’re not personally affected, they have family or friends who are,″ she said.

Jim Mitchum, emergency management director for Liberty County, said Thursday there already is flooding in some areas because of the large releases from Livingston Dam, about 25 miles to the north.

Exactly one year ago, Mitchum said, his agency was dealing with flood victims after receiving 15 1/2 inches of rain.

″How’s that for an anniversary?″ he said.

While a voluntary evacuation notice went to people in low-lying areas in Liberty County, others - like George and Brenda Clark - plan to stay, and they were in town Thursday stocking up on goods.

″Everybody’s getting ready. They’re not waiting like they did last time,″ Clark said.

The couple and their 7-year-old son were stranded last year for two weeks when water flooded the nearby creek and covered the road to their home.

″But we’re going to stay. Our house won’t get flooded, we’re on high ground,″ he said. ″We’re prepared this year.″

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