More water rescues are underway now in Port Arthur, Texas, where Harvey evacuees thought they had escaped the storm’s worst.
Two senior care facilities in Port Arthur – Cypress Glen and Lake Arthur Place – took in water overnight, and residents are trapped as the buildings are inaccessible. Senior Care Centers said in a statement, “We will evacuate if rescue teams can make it to the buildings. We are notifying families this morning.”
“No one can get in and no one can get out,” a staff member at Lake Arthur Place told weather.com. “We can’t see the fire hydrants, and we can barely see our sign.”
Water started entering the shelter at the Bob Bower Civic Center. Pictures posted on social media show floodwaters surrounding sleeping evacuees. Cots and other emergency supplies bobbed in the water-logged Civic Center floor. Evacuees fled to the bleachers in the Civic Center to escape the water, 12News reports.
The City of Port Arthur tweeted a plea for boats to help with evacuations and followed up with another message asking those who needed rescue to “display a white towel, sheet, shirt or anything to let volunteer rescuers know.”
County Judge Jeff Branick assured the people of Port Arthur early Wednesday that “help is coming, but it’s delayed,” KDFM reports.
“There are so many people who are flooded out down there and requesting assistance. It seems like, based on the calls, there are more houses in Port Arthur that are flooded than are not. The problem is, with trying to get in and assist those people, the assets we’ve requested from the state aren’t able to be deployed for us because every major thoroughfare going north and west out of Jefferson County are closed.
The evacuees are reportedly going to be evacuated to the Carl Parker Center about five miles south of the Civic Center. But as of Wednesday morning, the Carl Parker Center was not yet ready to receive an influx of evacuees. According to the Port Arthur Police, there are “no supplies at the facility at this time.”
According to KHOU, the water started entering the Bower Civic Center shelter at around 8 p.m. local time and it took just 20 minutes for water to rise high enough in the civic center to flood the floor.
— 12NewsNow (@12NewsNow) August 30, 2017
Harvey battered Port Arthur Tuesday, dumping more than 26 inches of rain in 24 hours, an all-time daily record for rainfall. More than three and a half feet of rain has fallen on Port Arthur since Saturday.
Widespread, disastrous flooding is ongoing in Port Arthur and nearby Beaumont.
The largest oil refinery in the country, located in Port Arthur, began operations to shut down on Wednesday “in response to increasing local flood conditions,” CNN reports. Parent company Motiva had been steadily reducing production at the plant for days. Late Tuesday it was running at only 40% capacity.
“Our whole city is underwater right now,” Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said. Freeman urged residents to get to higher ground and stay out of attics while emergency officials struggled to reach them.
Jefferson County Sherriff Zena Stephens told KFDM that that they couldn’t get into Port Arthur to rescue people due to the severity of the flooding.
Numerous house fires were reported, feet of water was entering homes and most roads were “impassable,” according to the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Department. Countless people were
Emergency officials were so overloaded with 911 calls that the Jefferson County Emergency Management Office said they couldn’t answer them all.
The EOM said they had to suspend water rescue operations until daylight, even while water continued to rise.
Jefferson County Commisioner and Port Arthur representative Michael Sinegal told KFDM that with so many residents in need of rescue and an overloaded emergency responders that residents were entering “survival mode.”
“We need boats. We need whatever it takes,” Sinegal told the station. “I think we need to get into a crisis mode here and if we have to go get people at night, we got to go get people at night. I don’t know how . We need air boats. We need any type of boat we can get and get people out of their house.”