Flood hits homes, businesses hard
Sargent area bears brunt of Imelda’s arrival
With Freeport and the Sargent area bearing the brunt of tropical storm Imelda, Matagorda County is now in clean up mode after the storm drenched the area with approximately 22 inches of rain.
“We are in clean up mode right now,” said Mitch Thames, public information officer for the Matagorda County Emergency Operations Center. “Everything is back and up to normal in the county. We have to get some homes cleaned up that received some water but overall we came through this is good shape.”
Tropical Storm Imelda formed in the Gulf of Mexico directly off the Texas coast early Monday, Sept. 16. Imelda is the ninth named storm of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
“Imelda formed from the same system we have been tracking for the past several days,” Thames said.
The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning from Sargent in Matagorda County to Port Bolivar. The storm made landfall over eastern Brazoria County and western Galveston County but its impact was felt hard in the Sargent area.
At the height of the storm, Matagorda County Judge Pro Tem and Commissioner Precinct 2 Kent Pollard asked all Matagorda County citizens to stay off the roads for a few more hours.
Rainfall associated from the storm has totaled 22 inches in the Sargent area with 13.5 inches of that happening in the first 12 hours of the storm’s landfall. Reports indicated that close to 10 inches fell in Wadsworth.
“This was a totally different storm than what we experienced in June of this year,” Thames said.
In the June 4-5 storm, approximately 13 inches of rain hit the Bay City area leaving many homes flooded with the city and county declaring a state of disaster.
On Thursday, Sept. 19, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for several counties including Matagorda for the issues being experienced due to widespread flooding caused by Tropical Storm Imelda.
This declaration will ensure that local officials have access to any state resources they may require to respond to this severe weather.
“The State of Texas is working closely with local officials and emergency personnel to provide the resources they need to keep Texans safe from Tropical Storm Imelda,” said Abbott. “I thank our first responders who are acting swiftly to help the communities that are facing this severe weather event. I urge all those in the path of this storm to take the necessary precautions and heed all warnings from local officials.”
A disaster declaration has been declared in the following counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange and San Jacinto.
“There are still a number of roads in Sargent that are impassable,” Thames said on Thursday, Sept. 19. “Sargent was the hardest hit area in the county. We are cleaning up and accessing the drainage situation in the county.”
In the early stages of the storm, the county was being slammed with four inches of rain an hour and Thames said even the best drainage systems would have a hard time dealing with type of rainfall.
“Nothing can handle four inches an hour for hour after hour,” Thames said. “This will place pressure on city and county officials to possible do another drainage study.”
Thames said in talks with city officials, the need for a new drainage study is on the radar.
“The more you build in an area, the more drainage is compromised and it has been while since our last drainage study so it might be time to invest some money into a new drainage study,” Thames said.
One factor that might have lessened the impact of the rainfall was that Matagorda County was in a burn ban status prior to the arrival of the tropical storm.
“We were so dry that the first four to six inches of rainfall was easily absorbed by the dry ground,” Thames said. “After that, it started to fill the streets.”