Jackson County officials lift mandatory evacuation
Aug. 26, 2017 at 2:26 p.m.
Updated Aug. 27, 2017 at 2:26 p.m.
Updated at 10 p.m. Sunday
Although Jackson County officials lifted the mandatory evacuation Sunday, residents should know much of the county could be without power for two to three weeks.
Most of Edna is without power, said Lori McLennan, the county's deputy emergency management coordinator. The American Electric Power system was partially destroyed in Jackson County.
Many rural residents served by Jackson Electric Coop. and most residents in Ganado have power again.
"Jackson Electric Coop has done a tremendous job getting power back to county residents," Sheriff Andy Louderback said. "AEP is working hard to get power back to the cities. Lack of power is our number one concern we have right now."
The water is working in Jackson County, but Edna has low water pressure, McLennan said. Two generators are on their way to the Edna water treatment plant to replace damaged ones.
As of now, there are no road blockages in Jackson County, Louderback said.
The roads are clear for residents to come back to Jackson County, but McLennan said, if they're comfortable where they're at, then they should stay there.
"We have limited stores open, if any," she said. "Everyone is still shut down because there is no power to open with."
Flooding for the county is still a major concern, McLennan said. Overflow from upstream rivers is projected to come down through Jackson County.
The river levels are starting to get close to the roads and banks.
"We're kind of in a holding pattern right now because of the storm going on in Houston," she said. "With the last update, it's going to circle back around. We don't know exactly where it's going to come out."
Updated at 11:18 p.m. Saturday
Jackson County officials are discussing the possibility of setting up a shelter for residents.
The Ganado mayor, Edna mayor and county judge will meet Sunday morning to discuss options, said Lori McLennan, deputy emergency management coordinator.
Ganado Mayor Clinton Tegeler said officials don't know what options will come to fruition regarding the potential shelter.
"If we have the 24 inches of rain that we're foretasted to get still, we're going to have considerable flooding, and we'll have people that will be flooded in their homes," Tegeler said.
Rivers in and around Jackson County have predicted record-breaking crest levels, McLennan said.
"We're in between the Navidad River and the Lavaca River," she said. "Any water above us in Hallettsville and Lavaca County above us flows down to our county ... Here is where we have our problem."
Surrounding rivers are projected to crest the following amounts:
- Navidad River near Morales is at 17.75 feet and will crest at 35.1 feet Aug. 30.
- Sandy Creek near Cordele is at 10.16 feet and will crest at 28.8 feet Aug. 29.
- Navidad River near Strane Park is at 16.58 feet and will crest at 31.6 feet Aug. 30.
- West Mustang Creek near Ganado is at 14.09 feet and will crest at 30.1 feet Aug. 30.
- Lavaca River near Edna is at 19.93 feet and will crest at 33.4 feet Aug. 29.
All four waterways are predicted to beat their crest records, except for Lavaca River.
Jackson County officials continue to monitor the storm and encourage residents to stay home. The entire county is under curfew until 8 a.m.
"We just ask everyone if they've evacuated please stay away if all possible," McLennan said. "(We) have quite a few power lines down. A lot of trees are down. We have some structural damage, residential damages. It's going to be a long cleanup."
Updated at 2:40 p.m. Saturday
All roads in Ganado have been cleared by the public works department and volunteer fire department, Mayor Clinton Tegeler said.
About 750 AEP customers are out of power in the city. AEP personnel will be headed to Ganado tonight or tomorrow to restore power to the city.
A 6 inch water leak at the city park is causing some homes to have low pressure. Public works officials are out fixing the leak now.
The drainage for the city is working, and the city has seen minimal flooding so far.
"That is our main concern is the flood warning," Tegeler said.
The city and county are in a band of predicted rainfall of 27 inches.
The city has had periods of less rain between bands allowing the water to drain off.
Winds are not a concern for city officials.
The county mandatory evacuation is still in effect, and Ganado has a curfew in place from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
The nursing home in Ganado is in good condition as it's one of the newer sturdy buildings in town, and residents are doing fine.
Updated at 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Jackson County residents who have evacuated the county should not consider returning yet, county and city officials said.
Jackson County is still getting bands of bad weather, and the hurricane is predicted to loop back to coastal waters and might build back up before going inland.
"With the rain comes possibilities for catastrophic flooding in the river areas," said Ganado Police Chief David Merritt. "Apparently even counties north of Jackson that had not been calling for any kind of evacuation are having voluntary evacuations because of flooding."
Merritt does not advise that residents come back to Jackson County yet.
"The problems that we have if you do comes back and it does flood, you're another person that has to be rescued," Merritt said. "If you're in a safe place as of right now, why come back and put yourself in that position where you need to be rescued?"
Parts of Ganado have no power, and most of Edna is without power. Isolated parts of Edna do have power, said Sheriff Andy Louderback.
Deputies haven't had the chance to assess road in Edna yet. Ganado has been partially assessed, and the volunteer fire department is out cleaning up down trees. Both towns have down trees and power lines.
"We don't know how much rain we're going to get," Louderback said. "We're still advising people to be patient. Its pre-mature to come back now."
Updated at 11 a.m. Saturday
Edna is seeing similar conditions as Ganado, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office dispatch.
Much of the town is without power, if not all. Deputies have not been able to go out and assess the situation because of the high winds. They might be able to go out and assess the city this afternoon.
So far there are no road closures.
To the dispatch's knowledge, water is okay to drink and running in Edna.
Updated at 10:25 a.m. Saturday
Trees down in the road are the biggest issue for Ganado.
To the dispatch's knowledge, water is running in Edna and okay to drink.
City officials and first responders did a damage assessment in north Ganado about 7:15 a.m. They returned before assessing the entire town because a hurricane rain band was returning.
“You’ll see periodic windows between the bands,” said Mayor Clinton Tegeler. “I don’t want to put anyone in danger.”
About 600 customers are without power in Ganado. AEP officials will not respond to electric problems until storm conditions are better.
Report any down power lines to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at 361-782-3541.
There is no problem with the Ganado city water system. Waste water services are just fine.
So far city drainage is working very well.
“Our concern is we look forward, as rain continues to fall with this slow moving storm those arrears where water typically does fall will continue to rise if we get rain that’s expected,” Tegeler said.
As city officials did their assessment there were no cars on the street.
“We appreciate everyone staying off the streets,” he said.
It is not safe for residents to return that evacuated.
“We’re still going to see high winds, falling trees and so forth” he said.
Another curfew is in effect from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. in Ganado.
Updated at 6:52 a.m. Saturday
The winds started to pick up in Jackson County about 4 a.m., and officials here think they are gusting up to 60 mph. Sustained winds are moving about 40 mph in Ganado.
About three-quarters of Ganado is out of power, and City Hall has been running off a generator. City Hall lost power at 6 a.m. According to dispatch, the entire town of Edna is also out of power.
AEP might come out at 2 p.m. if it's not too windy.
There is no shelter in Jackson County as the one officials were prepared to open at the county services building was canceled when the mandatory evacuation was issued. Generally, Red Cross will not place people in a shelter if the area is under a mandatory evacuation, the Ganado mayor said.
Some people were allowed in the Edna High School gym, but that structure remains a shelter not open to the public.
First responders will leave to assess damage at 7:15 a.m.
Updated at 6:42 p.m.
When Ganado Fire Chief Bernard Scott found out Hurricane Harvey upgraded to a Category 4, he said he wanted to remind residents first responders could no longer assist residents when winds top 45 mph.
Curtis Martin, city public works director, said he hopes the project that upgraded about a third of the city's drainage system makes a difference with flooding.
The project was more than $1 million and was completed this year.
"Our town is flat from one end of the street to the other, there may be two inches of drop in it. We're limited in what we can do," he said. "We made a short ditch and got the water going in the right direction."
The project not only replaced the drainage in about a third of the town, but the water and sewer lines as well as street pavement.
Updated at 5:36 p.m.
Jackson County first responders and city officials continued to wait for Hurricane Harvey to make landfall.
No major incidents have happened in Jackson County yet, said Lori McLennan, deputy emergency management coordinator. Hurricane Harvey is expected to make landfall this evening between Corpus Christi and Seadrift.
Mayor Clinton Tegeler he was most concerned about the rain to come to Jackson County from the hurricane.
“We’re looking at flooding like we’ve never seen before,” he said.
Flooding in Jackson County reached 4 to 6 feet above flood stage in 1994.
“If they're talking about those totals, we’ll probably top that,” he said.
Heavy rainfall is expected through much of the area with rainfall totals of 20 to 30 inches with maximum amounts near 40 inches near and east of a line from near Port Aransas to near Goliad.
In Jackson County, the hurricane winds may only reach 60 to 80 mph with potentially higher gusts, Tegeler said, which is much less than the 100 mph they were expecting.
“We’re not expecting as much damage from the winds,” he said. "What we were looking at before was two-fold.”
Ganado personnel planned to stay at the Ganado High School gym, but the mayor decided they would stay at Ganado City Hall and Fire House because the winds won’t be as high as expected.
If winds cause a structure to go out, there also would be added damage from the wind-blown material from the house.
“It’s kind of a chain reaction,” he said.
Despite the expected decreased winds in the county, residents need to keep in mind the storm still poses catastrophic damage. Jackson County is under tornado warning.
Tegeler also issued a curfew from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
The mayor is proud to wait the storm out with Ganado’s first responders.
“This group that you see here has gone through this together before,” he said. “We’ve got a really good group that works together. … We try to stick to common sense and do what makes sense for us.”
Updated at 2:36 p.m.
With Harvey approaching as a Category 3 hurricane, Ganado city officials were concerned about amount of people that stayed in the town.
Mayor Clinton Tegeler estimated about 15 percent of Ganado residents evacuated the county. The mayor issued a curfew from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for Ganado.
“In a case like this, we have all these people still here and once the storm lets up and we can get out and about,” he said. “Everyone else in town is going to want to do that, too. The conditions could be dangerous, down powers lines. That adds another layer of concern for us.”
The city and county officials have to focus on recovery after the storm and will have to worry about what residents are also doing with the potential dangerous hazards, Tegeler said.
“Ideally, everyone would evacuate the town other than our essential personal that will be working on the recovery that all we would have to focus on,” he said.
The Jackson County’s Sheriff’s Office will start assessing if they’re able to respond to any incidents when the winds are 50 mph, Sheriff Andy Louderback said.
“It doesn’t mean if we have a dire need of emergency service and call for a life saving event we won’t figure out some way to get a heavier vehicle or something through there,” he said.
The city’s first responders and city staff will stay in the Ganado High School gymnasium to ride out the storm.
Firefighters with the Ganado Volunteer Fire department will make rounds this afternoon to check around town and on people still in the nursing home, Ganado Nursing and Rehab.
Fire Chief Bernard Scott spent most of the morning and early afternoon searching for a generator for the gym. Officials expect to lose electricity.
The flooding in Jackson County won’t subside until the area no longer has a storm surge, which is expected to be 7 to 8 feet for the county.
“As long as the surge is in, we’re going to be holding water,” Scott said. “We’re going to be like a pond … It keeps the bays from draining. As long as the bays are holding water, we’re going to stack water.”
Only one dispatch center is in Jackson County, and if officials lose communication with their tower, portable towers will be brought in to restore radio communications, Louderback said.