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'It was very scary'

By JR Ortega
May 15, 2010 at 12:15 a.m.

A rooster tail of water plumes up behind a truck driving down Red River Street on Saturday morning.

Fran Rios' eyes welled up as the flood waters lapped around her knees Saturday at the Arlington Apartments.

The Victoria resident was in a panic when rising waters from severe thunderstorms would not allow her to leave her apartment, which is on Ben Wilson Street.

"It was very scary," Rios said as she fought back tears. "I thought about Hurricane Katrina."

Rios had woken up at 5 a.m. and began reading her Bible, she said.

Soon after, her daughter called and mentioned that many areas in Victoria were inundated.

Upon opening her door, water drenched and ruined some of her personal belongings.

She was stuck at least in a half a foot of water.

"At least we weren't drowning while we were asleep. At least we got to get up. It could have been much worse," Rios said referring to victims of 2004's Katrina. "I'm glad I was awake."

It was like a flashback of the 1998 flood for Liz Foy, who lives one apartment complex down at Casa Del Rio.

Foy held her malti-poo, Abby, as she watched the water on Ben Wilson slowly recede.

"What was really scary was people who drove by with big trucks, they brought tidal waves," Foy said. "It was so bad. It looked like the ocean."

DOWNTOWN DOWNPOUR

Major flooding was reported throughout other streets in Victoria.

At least 20 to 30 percent of the streets in Victoria were impassable immediately after the thunderstorms rolled out of the area, officials said.

But it wasn't water that was threatening Ashlee Rogers and Sara Rodriguez's home in downtown Victoria, it was an old pecan tree and strong winds.

Wind gusts were reported at 55 mph at the Victoria Regional Airport.

About 7 a.m. Rogers and Rodriguez were sleeping when Rodriguez woke up with a feeling of anxiety she could not explain, she said.

She left the room.

About 45 minutes later the tree fell, Rodriguez said.

Both Rodriguez and Rogers were aware of the strong thunderstorms, they said.

"We heard this creak and a rumble and the whole house shook like an earthquake," Rogers said.

The tree tore through the attic and pierced a piece of the bathroom wall, but it barely left the bathroom ceiling intact, she said.

All that's left is to remove the tree and fix the damages to the house, Rogers said.

During a spring storm last year, the tree had also snapped, but it fell into the fence and road, she added.

The tree has snapped its last branch.

Plans are to cut down the tree, Rogers said.

"It's very sad to see it go," said Rodriguez, who was upset that the large, old pecan tree is going to have to be chopped down. It just breaks my heart."

THE CLEAN UP

Down Cypress Street, residents walked up and down their driveways, airing out belongings and throwing others away.

One family had an industrial fan blowing, another lugged out a queen-sized mattress.

Scott Pearse was using a water pump to get out as much water as possible from a relatives living room area.

"It was absolutely filled with water," Pearse said as he pumped the water out of the saturated living area.

Pearse lives in Galveston, but is visiting Victoria.

Waking up into a water-saturated home reminded him of Hurricane Ike, he said.

They lost a stereo, several other smaller items and their furniture was saturated.

Meanwhile, two houses down, Mildred Young tried to sweep out the water that did enter her home.

There was at least two inches of water in her home, she said.

When she woke up at 2:30 a.m. and said there seemed to be nothing to worry about, just water on the street.

"I got up at about 6:30 again and stepped out into water in my bedroom," Young said as her friend continued to sweep out water.

A lot of items in her bathroom were lost.

She also lost some pillows and a sofa and comforter set was ruined.

Young remembers the house flooding back in the 1960s at a time when the drainage system was not as good as it is now.

Still, Young believes the drainage system needs to be improved once again after this flood, she said.

"If it rains steady for three or four hours, we're in trouble," she said.

Pearse is just happy most people are OK.

"No matter what, you've always got to be thankful," he said.

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