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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With all the rain, local, state and federal officials have been keeping a mindful eye on North Texas rivers and lakes.
Waterways have drained over the last two weeks and levels at the Trinity River have dropped. But Clay Church, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explained that all changed Wednesday. “Right now the Trinity River is rising, with the rains that have fallen today and early this morning.”
As it stands, the remnants of Tropical Depression Bill has meant wet weather, but not nearly as much rainfall as was predicted. Church said, “Looks like the majority of the real heavy rains have gone to the east of the Dallas Fort Worth area, and barring any localized flooding, it looks like some of those higher numbers of rain that were predicted have not materialized.”
On Tuesday, the path of then-Tropical Storm Bill was predicted to move directly over the Dallas/Fort Worth area, dropping between six to eight inches of rain. But the trajectory shifted more to the east and CBS 11 Storm Team Meteorologist Jeff Jamison says, “Bill wasn’t quite as slow-moving as forecast and that spared most of the area from the 6″ rain amounts. Most areas have picked up 1″ to 4″ of rain, leading to pockets of flooding. There could be an additional 1″ to 2″ of rainfall through Thursday. ”
Despite the lighter than expected rains, the ground is already soaked from rains in May. Bands of showers are expected to continue across the metroplex through Thursday. “We are watching those bands and seeing where those rains might be falling,” Church said, adding, “We’ll be able to look at those, see the intensity of the rainfall, and ensure that we are able to catch those flood waters where we can.”
Getting through the rain today and tomorrow is the least of the worries for some areas. Experts say flooding danger increases after the showers stop. Church said, “The intensity of where the rain fell is what we’ll be looking at over the next several hours. It will take a good day, 30 hours, 36 hours, for the water, the rain that has fallen, to actually get through the streams and through the sewer systems and down into the actual reservoirs.”
The future flooding risk means work crews in Dallas have already placed barricades in some areas and are setting up ones in others. The intent is to keep people away from high-water areas, and officials say no matter how inconvenient it’s important for people not to ignore the barricades.
“If you can’t see the road then it’s not worth the risk. We cannot say that message enough,” stressed City of Dallas spokeswoman Sana Syed. “First and foremost is everyone’s safety… everything else we can deal with. We just don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”
It’s also important to note that driving around barricades is against state law. While there are no current major road closures in Dallas, officials say they too are keeping an eye out for future flash flooding. “In a couple of days when we find out how much water lakes to the north of us are going to release… that’s what caused some serious flooding issues for us this last time.”
Those lakes to the north, already swollen with water, are key to surrounding and downstream flooding. Church explained, “We do have some very high pools currently, with Ray Roberts, Lewisville and Grapevine [Lakes] in what we call ‘surcharge operations,’ where they’re actually discharging waters that are being held above their flood pools.
As it stands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has extended federal disaster assistance to seven additional Texas counties. The newly designated counties for Individual Assistance are: Cooke, Dallas, Fannin, Grayson, Liberty, Nueces, and Walker. They join 23 counties already designated: Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Denton, Eastland, Fort Bend, Gaines, Guadalupe, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Johnson, Milam, Montague, Navarro, Rusk, Smith, Travis, Wichita, Williamson, Wise and Van Zandt.
Disaster assistance for homeowners and renters may include grants to help pay for rent, temporary housing and home repairs, as well as other serious disaster-related needs. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also are available.
Texans with storm damage should register with FEMA even if they have insurance. Applications for FEMA assistance can be made online or by calling 800-621-3362 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
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