Latest Texas flood news (Sunday): Liberty residents cut off by Trinity River

Published 5:20 pm Sunday, September 3, 2017

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on Harvey and its aftermath (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

Federal and state environmental officials say they’re continuing to monitor smoke and air quality at a controlled burn at a Houston-area chemical plant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said Sunday afternoon that they were outside the evacuation zone for the Arkema plant in Crosby, but could respond quickly if needed.

Three trailers containing the compounds had already caught fire at the plant after backup generators were engulfed by Harvey’s floodwaters, which knocked out the refrigeration necessary to keep the organic peroxides from degrading and catching fire.

The agencies say that they’ve been monitoring the air after the initial fires and have not found toxic concentration levels in areas away from the evacuated facility.


4:10 p.m.

Authorities say they’ve started a controlled burn of the remaining trailers of highly unstable compounds at a Houston-area chemical plant that flooded because of Harvey.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office said in a statement Sunday afternoon that the decision was made to take “proactive measures” to ignite the remaining trailers at the Arkema plant in Crosby through controlled means. The office said that the measures don’t pose any additional risk to the community. The 1.5-mile evacuation zone around the Crosby plant is still in place.

Six of the trailers had remained after three others ignited in recent days, sending thick black smoke and tall flames into the air.

Arkema had said Harvey’s floodwaters engulfed its backup generators at the plant, knocking out the refrigeration necessary to keep the organic peroxides, used in such products as plastics and paints, from degrading and catching fire.


2:40 p.m.

Floodwaters have receded in many areas hit hard by Harvey, but dozens of people are still cut off near the town of Liberty because of the swollen Trinity River.

Maggie King, who lives in city of about 8,400 people 45 miles northeast of Houston, was on hand with her two children to greet a Texas National Guard helicopter that landed at the town’s fire department on Sunday with pallets of drinking water.

She says recovery from the storm is so far from over because there is so much to be repaired.

Fire Chief Brian Hurst says residents in outlying areas are nowhere close to being able to begin the recovery process since they can’t even get into their homes. He says that for some, it will take months or even years.


12:25 p.m.

Worshippers and relief workers are pausing from their chores across South Texas to seek God’s favor as the area rebuilds.

Hurricane Harvey hit the region with high winds on Aug. 25 and then dumped more than four feet of rain in the Houston area days later. While the Gulf Coast suffers in miserable conditions from Corpus Christi, Texas, northward into Louisiana, the theme in many sermons Sunday was that God is greater.

The St. Joseph Catholic Church in Port Aransas hasn’t had power since the storm but set out holy water and bug spray for parishioners before services Sunday morning. Many anointed themselves with both.

A less-formal group met and prayed outside a relief station on the beach town’s main road.


11:10 a.m.

Authorities in the Houston enclave of Bellaire say people who have suffered losses from Harvey are complaining about scavengers descending on their neighborhoods, picking through flood-damaged items piled up in front of their homes.

Police Chief Byron Holloway is asking residents drying items they hope to salvage to not place them by debris intended for trash and to put them instead closer to their homes.

He’s also suggesting that people put signs out advising they don’t want their items taken, though he acknowledges that may not stop some scavengers.

Bellaire officials are working with contractors to develop a debris pickup schedule.


9:30 a.m.

Houston city spokesman Kese Smith says officials believe about 300 residents have not heeded Mayor Sylvester Turner’s mandatory evacuation order for a West Houston area being flooded by releases from two swollen reservoirs.

Center Point Energy crews have started going door-to-door to check homes and are advising people still left behind in flooded homes that their power is being turned off. He says people in homes that have taken no water will not have their electricity cut off.

Water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs is emptying into Buffalo Bayou, which in turn is flooding the neighborhoods it borders. Army Corps of Engineers officials say the release is necessary to ease pressure on the reservoirs from rain dumped by Harvey and create space in case it rains again soon.


8:50 a.m.

Center Point Energy spokeswoman Alicia Dixon says utility crews have started turning off power to residents who have stayed behind in a flooded area of west Houston where Mayor Sylvester Turner ordered a mandatory evacuation.

The area is being flooded by water released from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. Army Corps of Engineers officials say the release is necessary to ease pressure on the reservoirs from several feet of rain dumped by Harvey and to create space in case it rains again soon.

The mayor ordered the mandatory evacuation amid concerns that emergency responders couldn’t reach those areas, if needed. A fire destroyed a home in the flooded area on Saturday.

Officials say some of the homes in the evacuation area may remain flooded for two weeks.

City emergency center officials say they’re not immediately certain how many people have been holding out in their homes despite a voluntary evacuation order or how many have left since Turner Saturday made the order mandatory.


12:15 a.m.

A city that lost its drinking water system is struggling to restore service and a crippled chemical plant that twice has been the scene of explosions remains a concern nine days after Harvey ripped across Texas.

Officials in Beaumont, population almost 120,000, worked to repair their water treatment plant that failed after the swollen Neches River inundated the main intake system and backup pumps failed. In Crosby, outside of Houston, authorities continued to monitor the Arkema plant where three trailers of highly unstable compounds ignited in recent days, sending thick black smoke and tall flames into the air.

Texas began burying its dead and taking steps toward the long recovery ahead. In Tyler, friends and family gathered Saturday to remember a former high school football and track coach whose body was found Monday.