STORM DAMAGE: First-hand look at damage from Harvey near Splendora

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First-hand look at storm damage in Liberty County near Splendora. (KTRK)

For the first time, we are seeing the extent of flood damage in Liberty County near Splendora.

Mobile homes there were not just inundated with water, but the floodwaters from the East Fork of the San Jacinto River forced some of the homes near East River Road and Magnolia off their foundations. Some collapsed under the power of the current from the river.

Others were picked up and deposited by floodwaters half a football field away from where they once stood.

"The current got me and carried me off. I thought I was gonna die out there," said Kelly Torres.

She said the water rose about four feet in one hour last week, as she attempted to scramble to the roof of her mobile home so she could flag down someone to rescue her. She lost her footing and found herself unable to hold on.

"The current got me and carried me off," she said.

She was able to grab a tree and a piece of wood, wedging it between branches to give her something to hold on to. Torres said she spent the next three-plus hours hanging on, hoping someone would come by, see her and rescue her.

Hours passed and no one came.

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Kevin Quinn has a look at storm damage in Liberty County.



Then, she realized she still had her purse. Inside the purse was a pistol. She fired it, hoping someone might hear the shot and realize she was in distress.

"It worked! It did work," she said.

A stranger on a jet ski heard the shot, located her and pulled her to safety.

"That's my hero. I really thought I was gonna die in the woods," Torres said.

Liberty County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Reaves said there was great damage to the areas he represents. Not just the neighborhood mentioned above, but also Plum Grove. In all he said 600 to 700 homes were destroyed.

Some Liberty county homeowners have complained of a foul odor in the area for days. They've discovered dead cattle on their properties, some not far from their homes.

"It's a rotten smell. You know it's something dead," said flood victim Patricia Harvey.

Ranchers living nearby lamented the loss of cattle in the flood. B.J. Burton said his family lost over 200 head of cattle.

"Watched them wash away, nothing I could do," Burton said.

Folks as far as five miles away have discovered cows washed up on their properties, some alive, some dead.

For the last several days, Burton and other good Samaritans who live near by have been attempting to find the cows. They've been able to save a number of them by extracting them from the mud. Unfortunately, Burton said, it was already too late for many. In some cases, the mud has already hardened, in others the ground is simply too wet to attempt to rescue any cattle without risking the loss of heavy equipment.

As the deceased animals decompose, property owners are becoming more and more agitated. Not only do they have to contend with what the flood waters did to their homes but they now have to do so while battling the nauseating stench of decay.

"These are a real health hazard, it's a total lack of response," said Ronnie Marsh.

He and others have tried repeatedly to get someone from the county to help. He said he even offered to bury the cows if the county could simply come dig holes for them.

"This is something we need help with...government sucks," he said.

Marsh and others have been saving cattle where they can.

Commissioner James Reaves told Eyewitness News, "By law, I can't come on private property and do anything." He said he would be asking the county attorney if there is any exception to that. He claimed the county did provide lime for residents to place on the deceased livestock to at least help cut down on the odor.

Liberty County Judge Jay Knight said limited resources require the county to prioritize use following catastrophe.

Right now, he said they are focused on restoring damaged roadways across Liberty County so that public safety is ensured. That, he said, at the moment, must take priority.


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Related Topics:
hurricane harveyLiberty CountySplendora
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