Crossroads counties slowly recovering from Harvey

Ismael Perez By Ismael Perez

Sept. 1, 2017 at 10:33 p.m.
Updated Sept. 2, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Goliad County councilman Nathan Lill walks through floodwater toward Thom Gutierrez's home in Fannin.

Goliad County councilman Nathan Lill walks through floodwater toward Thom Gutierrez's home in Fannin.   Olivia Vanni/ for The Victoria Advocate

Crossroads counties are slowly but surely restoring areas affected by Harvey.

The first week after Harvey passed through the counties, the residents' main concerns were having power back in their homes and running water.

Power was slated to be returned to most of the county by Saturday and Sunday, while some water boil notices remain in effect until further notice from county officials.

Goliad County

Goliad is starting to look like its old, welcoming self with restoration efforts from the past few days, said County Judge Pat Calhoun said.

Goliad has about 50 to 60 people in town who are still without power and 75 to 100 in the rural county without power, Calhoun said.

The boil water notice was lifted Friday afternoon, but the county is still helping residents with washing machines, portable restrooms and portable showers.

Calhoun said the county is continuing to supply residents with bottled water and will plan to ship the excess water to other counties, including Refugio and Aransas.

The curfew was lifted Thursday, and businesses are starting to open back up, he said.

"Slowly but surely, we are coming back to life," Calhoun said.

He said the Goliad school district is expected to welcome about 50 displaced students who are coming from locations severely affected by Harvey.

Trash pickup will occur Monday in the city, where brush and household trash will be collected.

Calhoun said he was thankful for the Goliad school district, which had well over 100 students who volunteered to clean up the courthouse lawn, schools and churches.

"They learned the No. 1 lesson in life, which is charity," he said.

Refugio County

All of Refugio County had water available, but when it came to power, they were dependent on generators, said Kristen Newman, public information officer for Hurricane Harvey response in Refugio County.

She said county officials are working diligently to get the power back on.

Officials are looking at a two-week period to have the power fully functional, Newman said.

As of Friday, the generators were being used for critical areas like hospitals, schools, churches and first response shelters.

Refugio County is expected to shelter about 100 refugees from Houston and surrounding counties who were in shelters in Austin, Newman said.

Newman said Friday that trash pickup had officially resumed the normal schedule.

The county is still under a boil water notice and a curfew from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. until further notice.

Some local businesses are open, but most are asking for cash only as they are recovering from Harvey themselves, Newman said.

"We are taking donations and are asking for rakes, shovels, mosquito sprays and monetary donations," she said. "They can be delivered to our donation station at Our Lady of Refuge Church."

Jackson County

All Jackson County offices were open for business Friday with employees returning to their regularly scheduled jobs.

"We had an outstanding attitude in Jackson County and had residents working together as they were overcoming the hardship of the storm," Louderback said. "It was a fond effort from the cities of Jackson County."

Power had been restored to about 95 percent of Jackson County as of Friday evening, said Jackson County Sheriff A.J. Louderback.

He said the water for the county was in good shape and the residents did not require a boil water notice.

City officials are concentrating on cleaning tree branches and debris from Hurricane Harvey.

"Our county has been very fortunate, and we are working on getting it back together," Louderback said.

The county had an emergency shelter in Ganado for evacuees from Matagorda and Wharton counties.

At one point, the county sheltered about 170 refugees, Louderback said. The shelter closed Thursday.

AEP advised county officials power may be restored by Sunday morning.

The Jackson County Transfer Station was open Friday and will be open Saturday for household trash and brush at no charge for Jackson County residents.

The Jackson County mandatory evacuation was lifted Sunday afternoon.

Lavaca County

The Lavaca County Sheriff's Office was collecting supplies such as water, diapers, canned foods and soap Thursday.

Deputy Ethan Clendenen planned to distribute the items to Rockport, Arkansas Pass, Port Aransas, Ingleside and other areas affected by Harvey.

The curfew and evacuation order for the City of Hallettsville was lifted Monday, according to Lavaca County Emergency Management.

The Lavaca River at Hallettsville crested at 25.3 feet early Monday and was at 6.5 feet Tuesday.

The Navidad River at Sublime crested at 36.35 feet early Monday and was at 27.28 feet Tuesday.

River levels continued to fall at both locations.

Calhoun County

As of Friday afternoon, about 50 to 60 percent of Calhoun County had power, said Mayor Jack Whitlow.

The power is expected to be 95 percent restored Saturday evening.

"We are slowly getting back online," Whitlow said. "AEP has done wonders; we have an excellent crew working as hard as they can."

The boil water notice expired Thursday evening, he said.

Those served by the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority Calhoun County Rural Water Supply no longer have to boil their water. The entity provided the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality with laboratory tests that indicate the water was good to drink, GBRA spokeswoman LaMarriol Smith wrote via email.

The Port O'Connor Improvement District, which serves 1,250 people, is still under a boil water notice, according to a TCEQ list last updated Thursday.

Whitlow said when most of the city was without power and the boil water notice was in effect, officials were asking people to stay away.

But with the evacuation order being lifted, more and more people are coming back, he said.

"We are proud the citizens helped maintain the city during the storm by evacuating," he said.

With most of the businesses being open, the county will stop distributing water and will give it to other counties that need it the most.

The county had trash pickup services Thursday and Friday and will continue to collect household trash on Monday so the returning evacuees can dispose of their waste.

Whitlow said county officials expect to have the trash services back on track next week.

He said he was thankful the county was spared from the worst of the storm.

"We received enormous damage, but things could have been worse," Whitlow said. "We still have a lot of needy people and we will assist them. We are working on having everything under control, and we will begin with healing."

DeWitt County

The waters from the flood that impacted DeWitt County are slowly receding, said DeWitt County Sheriff Carl Bowen.

Bowen spent most of his day Friday going door-to-door delivering bottled water to residents who were affected by the flood and trying to get their needs satisfied.

He said most of the homes he visited did have power, but he could not give an official number on how many homes in the county were with or without power.

Most of the residents of the county receive their water from wells and did not have issues with not having water, he said.

The shelters available in DeWitt County were closed as of Thursday, Bowen said.

The curfew was still in place as of Friday afternoon for rural areas in the county from midnight to 6 a.m. to help with traffic.

City workers will be concentrating on cutting trees and cleaning up brush and debris before the trash pickup come back to full effect, Bowen said.

He said residents who are cleaning their own yards or neighborhood should be careful and be safe.

"The cleanup process can be as dangerous as the storm itself," Bowen said. "It will be hot, and people can hurt themselves with branches or debris. They need to be careful during the cleaning process."



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