High water prompts school, apartment complex evacuations

January 10, 2012 3:26:34 AM PST
Emergency personnel evacuated residents and elementary school students in parts of southeast Houston after Monday's strong storms flooded some streets with feet-deep water.

After quite a day, and an even more interesting dismissal, the students of KIPP Academy all stepped off the bus and were finally on their way home.

"We had to get on one of those dump trucks," one student said.

Trapped by floodwater at their school meant their parents spent a few hours in limbo. Pickup was not only delayed but also moved to St. Francis Church on Reed and Cullen.

At nearby Peck Elementary, pickup for some meant a ride on a firefighter's back across the flooded street.

"They're our savior and I appreciate their help," one parent said.

Classes for at both campuses have been canceled for Tuesday.

But it wasn't just students who needed help escaping the rapidly rising water. As the flood waters closed in, dozens of others struggled to evacuate.

"It started to rise higher and higher," evacuee Cammie Aldridge said.

Aldridge was trapped but chose to wade through it. It took her 15 minutes.

"We made it through, and it was scary. Honestly, it was scary," she said.

Others couldn't do that, like people with children and wheelchairs and walkers.

Arthur Breaux was stuck until rescuers shuttled him out of the dirty water.

"With me being sick, like I am, I was gonna try to walk out myself, but they gave me some help and I appreciate it," Breaux said.

About 25 residents at the Royal Palms East Apartments near Mykawa and Griggs were evacuated after strong storms flooded the bottom-floor units with up to three feet of water. Another 13 from nearby Tejano community center also requested help from emergency responders.

These people have grabbed whatever they could from their apartments and they've climbed onto these elevated dump trucks just to get to higher ground.

"They put us on an air mattress and just kind of paddled us out," evacuee Sharon Roach said.

What's next is still muddy. But at least, they say, they're out.

"I'm going to my mother-in-law's, and then we're just gonna stay there for a while," evacuee Travis Peters said.

The HFD call center says it received more than a 100 calls for assistance with minor water rescues. Most incidents have been due to stalled out vehicles in high water. Flooding is the most common hazard in the City of Houston and the Houston Fire Department reminds citizens of the National Weather Service's safety message "Turn Around Don't Drown."

St. Francis Church has turned into an American Red Cross shelter. About 40 people checked into it to see refuge.

Some residents in the area tell us it floods frequently there, but some others blamed Monday's flooding on construction on the new METRORail line there.