Rescue workers rescue dozens of people after heavy rains cause flooding in Guadalupe County | Alert

As Gloria Uptain made her way to work in the wee hours of the morning Thursday, her worst fear came true – of being washed away in flood waters and possibly drowning.

The Guadalupe County resident was one of many travelers who were rescued from the rushing waters that closed State Highway 123 at FM 477, just south of Seguin.

“It was dark, there were no barricades, no warnings,” she said. “I have a Ford Focus and by the time I realized I was driving in the water it was too late my car was washed away. The current was so strong.

As her car pulled away from the freeway, she tried to escape, but the car died and the water pressure prevented the doors from opening. She threw a window, crawled through it, and tried to sit on her car and wait to be rescued, but her car started rolling, causing her to fall.

She was finally able to grab a fence post, which she held for two and a half hours, Uptain said.

Uptain described the heartbreaking ordeal as traumatic, especially as she is terrified of water and cannot swim.

“I am in the middle of a field, I am alone, it is dark,” she said. “There were other people screaming from other cars, but I couldn’t see them.”

Uptain was among dozens of rescuers rescued Thursday as remnants of Pacific Hurricane Pamela dropped between 6 and 10 inches of rain over the area.

Sirens sounded and emergency crews rushed to ensure safety in Seguin and Guadalupe County Thursday morning as storms hit the area and waterways overflowed.

The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority notified the Guadalupe County Emergency Management Coordinator of the excessive river flows at around 3 a.m. Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to 22 calls that led to water rescues, said Sheriff’s Investigator Lt Tarinna Skrzycki-Pfeil.

“With the help of several local volunteer fire departments including McQueeney VFD, New Berlin VFD, Sandhills VFD, Kingsubury VFD and Marion VFD and the Guadalupe County Fire Marshal’s office, all those trapped in vehicles or stuck in the water managed to save, ”she said. “We would also like to thank the other agencies in the county, such as the Santa Clara Marshal’s Office and the Marion Police Department, for their assistance in handling these incidents. “

Uptain congratulates everyone involved, especially those who saved her for all the work they did on Thursday.

Guadalupe County emergency management coordinator Patrick Pinder said the county had not reported any injuries or missing people.

The Guadalupe River overflows on the shores of Max Starcke Park after the remnants of Hurricane Pamela dropped 6 to 10 inches of rain in the region on Thursday, October 14, 2021.

Sound the alarm

Pinder’s office activated emergency warning sirens along Dunlap, McQueeney and Placid Lakes and Meadow Lake twice, once around 4 a.m. and then an hour later. Sirens alert people in the area to seek refuge and safety, and get updated safety information from their favorite media, he said.

Still, sounding the sirens didn’t keep people from getting into trouble, he said.

“Some of the challenges we faced this morning were that many drivers were unaware of the water on the roadway when driving to work, coming home from work,” Pinder said. “We had several motorists stranded and water rescues were carried out. “

The majority of the water rescues took place at the western end of the county, west of the Guadalupe River, he said. Most affected have been the areas around communities like Marion, Santa Clara, New Berlin and McQueeney, Pinder said.

“The service calls started dropping after sunrise,” he said. “We started to see that the drivers were more aware of their surroundings, could see the roads and the water on the roads. The number of water rescue calls began to decrease.

Prior to that, however, the Seguin Fire Department conducted a slew of emergency operations Thursday morning, Pinder and Seguin Fire Chief Dale Skinner said.

Seguin’s department received its first call just before 3 a.m. and continued to help people in water-related emergencies until shortly after 8 a.m. on Thursday, Skinner said.

The Seguin Fire Department responded to a dozen such calls, he said. Most were south along State Highway 123 and around FM 477, with a couple in the area along FM 1117, Skinner said.

“People were stuck in their vehicles,” he said. “There are houses near the intersection where people were stuck in their homes. We moved them to higher ground.

Of course, Skinner said, there was flooding in areas normally flooded during heavy rains in Seguin. Extreme weather conditions provide a prime example of why emergency officials tell people to avoid risky high water situations, he said.

“Better to be late where you’re going than not to get there at all,” Skinner said. “Turn around, don’t drown.”

The permanent barricades on Laubach Road are locked, preventing drivers from getting carried away by a swollen crackle on Thursday, October 14, 2021.

Pacific-based hurricane brings severe weather to Texas

The remnants of Hurricane Pamela made landfall along Mexico’s Pacific coast on Wednesday and passed through Mexico bringing moisture to the upper layers of Texas, said Paul Yura, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Braunfels. . Some of the upper level humidity combined with an upper level storm system to the west on Wednesday evening formed showers and storms, he said.

This caused widespread precipitation across much of south-central Texas along the Interstate 35 corridor, with rain totals measuring between 4 and 6 inches, Yura said. Even higher totals, close to 10 inches, fell in Gonzales County, he said.

The rain pushed eastward late in the morning, Yura said around 11 a.m. Thursday.

“What we are getting right now, as the rainfall has left the area, we still have many roads closed due to the flooding,” he said. “Several of the larger rivers are now starting to rise due to all the rain runoff overnight.”

Yura predicted that water would recede in many areas throughout Thursday, but rivers would continue to rise, particularly southwest of Seguin along the Guadalupe River to Victoria. Although the roads had to be cleared, large rivers like the Guadalupe would continue to swell over the next few days, he said.

This would only happen to the east of the city, Yura said.

“The river is not going to continue to rise west of Seguin,” he said. “Due to the terrain, the rivers will continue to rise as you head southeast.”

In Seguin, the Guadalupe River had reached its peak before noon and was experiencing declining flows and water levels, Yura said. The possibility of light rain remained in the area but is expected to be insignificant, he said.

City sanitary sewers overflow during a flood

Flowing waters from the storm caused other problems in Seguin, particularly a sanitary sewer overflow requiring public notification, said Jennifer Sourdellia, public information officer for the town of Seguin.

The city’s water and wastewater service attempted to restart the pump motors of a sanitary sewer lift station that became overloaded due to the weather event, she said.

The sewer overflow exceeded 100,000 gallons, which is the trigger for a public notice, Sourdellia said.

“There is no threat to the public drinking water supply as a result of this event,” she said. “This happened in the early morning of October 14 at the Walnut Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant, located on East Klein Street in Seguin. Crews contained the sewer spill and successfully restarted the pump motors.

Seguin maintains more than 200 miles of sanitary sewer lines and treats about 5 million gallons of sewage per day between its two sewage treatment plants, Sourdellia said.

The city notified the Texas Environmental Quality Commission, maintained the spill and increasingly monitored water supply systems, according to a notice issued by the city.

The advisory suggested that private well owners – if they wished – to treat their well water, have their well water tested, and inspect their wells for siting, construction and testing. proper maintenance.

As a precaution, the city suggested that people using private drinking water supply wells within half a mile of the spill site or in the potentially affected area use distilled or boiled water to drink, cook, wash and brush teeth.

“People who purchase water from a public water supply network can contact their water distributor to determine if the water is safe for personal use,” reads the advisory provided by Sourdellia. . “The public should avoid contact with waste, soil or water in the area potentially affected by the spill.

“If the public comes into contact with any waste, soil or water potentially affected by the spill, they should bathe and wash clothes thoroughly as soon as possible. “

The Red Cross called for help

As the storm raged and water seeped into homes and covered roads, the Guadalupe County Emergency Management Office reached out to the Red Cross for help, Pinder said. The Red Cross set up shelter at the Seguin Events Center – Coliseum for anyone in need of shelter, he said.

The shelter opened around 9 a.m. and was scheduled to stay open until around 5 p.m. Thursday for the displaced, but no one had used the shelter around 1 p.m. Thursday, Pinder said.

“It wasn’t just vehicles stuck on the road, it was motorhomes that were evacuated,” he said. “These are the owners along the streams and tributaries that had not yet been inundated before the water entered the homes. We offered help to people who might need it by appealing to the Red Cross.

The county has also received help from area volunteer firefighters, a rescue boat from Texas Search and Rescue, a boat crew from the New Braunfels Fire Department and more, Pinder said. His office planned to provide assessment forms to people whose property was damaged in order to inform state authorities of the amount of the damage, the emergency manager said.

The forms can be sent to the Texas Emergency Management Division’s website and potentially get additional help from the state, Pinder said.

“We can see if the county hits the threshold for any kind of funding or assistance,” he said. “It’s a state investigation. They want to see how much damage has been done in the affected communities. “

Only damage not covered by insurance can be claimed, Pinder said.

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