Water rescues continue in Montgomery County amidst river flooding and disaster declaration

Mycah Hatfield Image
Saturday, January 27, 2024
Montogomery County floods: Emergency crews evacuate residents and Judge Keough issues disaster declaration
Emergency crews in Montgomery County are continuing water rescues as the San Jacinto River is expected to stay in flood stages through Monday.

CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- Emergency crews in Montgomery County are continuing water rescues as the San Jacinto River is expected to stay in flood stages through Monday.

County Judge Mark Keough issued a disaster declaration Wednesday evening as the San Jacinto River Authority released stormwater from the Lake Conroe Dam, causing significant flooding.

Jason Millsaps, the director of Montgomery County's Office of Emergency Management, said most of their rescues started Thursday morning when they started dealing with runoff from northern counties.

"Conroe has slowed the release from Lake Conroe down," Millsaps said. "It went to 16,000 cubic feet per second from 19,500, so that's going to only help these folks and allow this river to wash down and lower, and they're going to continue to lower that lake release as safely as they can."

In about 24 hours, he said they contacted people in roughly 90 homes and evacuated people from 35.

Friday morning, the Caney Creek Fire Department and Texas Task Force 1 worked to evacuate George and his dog from their home along the West Fork San Jacinto River. The crews used a high water vehicle and boats to get to him down Magnolia Bend Drive.

"It starts out kind of slow," George said after the rescue. "You think it's not going to happen, and then it does."

His home is on stilts, but he said he still has about a foot of water inside. He said it has started to recede.

"Can't thank them enough," he said of the rescue crews. "Don't know how I can repay them. They're amazing people and their equipment. They know what they're doing."

While that rescue was underway, Thomas O'Keefe and his partner emerged from the cold flood water carrying bags of clothes for their children. He said he has been staying at the home to take care of it and the dogs. She was staying with their kids on dry land.

It takes them about an hour to walk from their home near the river to dry land.

Another man who paddled out of the water in a canoe said he had been coming and going from his property as well.

Crews also spotted a pony and goat in a pen up to their necks in water. They said they could not identify who they belonged to, so they brought them to higher ground.

Charlie Abney, the water group supervisor for Task Force 1, said their team has been busy the last few days.

"Typically, the earlier people can decide they want to be evacuated, it's going to be better and safer for our boat squads," Abney said.

Red Cross reported they have 23 people and six pets between three shelters.

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