Due to excessive flooding in the state, a state of disaster, declared by President Barack Obama, will take effect in some areas of Texas.
ABC News is reporting that President Obama has instructed the federal disaster, declared by Obama on Friday, provide relief to supplement other recovery efforts in the areas hardest hit since May 4. This action make federal funds available to residents of Harris, Hays, and Van Zandt counties. Other federal funding is available to local governments and non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for repairs and other emergency work in disaster-declared Cooke, Gaines, Grimes, Harris, Hays, Navarro, and Van Zandt counties. There has been a disaster declared in at least 70 Texas counties.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott had earlier requested financial funding from the president for the areas most affected by the flooding.
Residents of the towns of Rosenberg, 35 miles southwest of Houston, and Wharton, about 25 miles southwest of Rosenberg, have ordered an immediate and mandatory evacuation due to the proximity of the towns to the still-rising Brazos River. Emergency workers have set up temporary Red Cross shelter in Richmond for those who have been displaced.
The nearby Brazos River has already crested to a flood level of 48 feet, and is expected to reach at least 50 feet by Sunday due to more rain on the way to these disaster-declared areas. Residents near the Colorado River are also expected to relocate until it is deemed safe to return.
According to Newsweek, 21 lives have been lost in disaster-declared areas thus far. Storms that battered the North Texas area Thursday and Friday added more runoff to the rivers heading southward, prompting many assistance requests in Dallas, where up to seven inches of rain have fallen.
“Communities across the State of Texas have experienced devastating destruction, injury and—most tragically—loss of life due to the major and unceasing severe weather system that has been impacting our state for weeks,” said Governor Greg Abbott, who made the request to President Obama to have this disaster declared.
Now that Obama has signed the decree of disaster, declared earlier this week, funds can now be made available to try to keep Texas’ $1.4 trillion economy moving. Texas is also the biggest domestic supplier of energy.
Thousands of cars were stranded on Dallas freeways due to floodwaters. Girl Scout cookies and bottled water was distributed to the stranded motorists. Anheuser-Busch temporarily retooled a Budweiser plant in Georgia to mass produce canned water with the express purpose that it be distributed to disaster-declared areas.
The rain that has fallen in Texas has already set records, but more rain was forecast through the weekend. Authorities are asking residents in disaster-declared areas that don’t have to evacuate to stay off the roads and remain at home until it is safer to travel about.
[Image courtesy of the Blanco Police Department/AFP]