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Disaster declaration extended as recovery begins

BY GREG PEAK
Editor
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LIVINGSTON -- During a brief meeting Thursday morning, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy’s disaster declaration issued Aug. 25 was extended for an additional 30 days by the Polk County Commissioners Court.

The meeting was held at the Polk County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) where the commissioners and other officials could receive the latest information regarding the havoc created by Hurricane Harvey in Polk County.

Much of the damage was along the Trinity River downstream from the Lake Livingston Dam, which due to the massive amounts of rainfall throughout the region, was releasing more than 110,000 cubic feet of water per second on Monday. Because a cubic foot of water contains 7.48 gallons, there were more than 827,000 gallons of water being released from the dam each second.

The rising waters along the river prompted Murphy to revise a voluntary evacuation order for the area issued Monday morning to a mandatory order the following morning.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Polk County’s Chief Deputy Sheriff Byron Lyons during an visit at the OEM Command Center Thursday. “The community has really been pulling together to help get through this situation.

“People who would normally probably not speak to one another are banding together to help each other. It is just unbelievable,” Lyons said.

Lyons and other officials at the command center also expressed relief that no deaths or major injuries had been attributed to the storm, although a number of medical issues have been attributed to the stress generated by the storm and the destruction along the river and the creeks which feed into it.

Murphy noted there has been an outpouring of support from people wanting to volunteer their time to help with the situation, adding that a list has been created and they will be contacted as needed. Volunteers -- primarily volunteer firefighters -- along with local, state and federal employees have been working to oversee the evacuations and the Dunbar Gym evacuation center in Livingston.

The gym, which was opened Monday soon after Murphy issued the voluntary evacuation order, was set up to house 80 people and ended up providing shelter to 53 local residents. Donations of food, clothing, water and other items poured in to help.

Nancy Brown, who volunteered to serve as the public information officer for this event, noted one major issue being created by some people is the moving of barricades and the removal of warning tape along some county roads covered with flood waters.

“We ran out of barricades and had to start using yellow warning tape to try to keep traffic off flooded sections of roads,” she explained.

Some motorists, apparently those with high-clearance trucks, came along and moved the barricades or took down the tape in order to get through. This meant the next vehicle that came along had no warning and would drive into the high water.

Officials are asking motorists to stay off the roads as much as possible, noting that due to the heavy rains the unpaved county roads are extremely vulnerable to damage.
Brown noted that the OEM Command Center is posting notices of road conditions twice a day and this information is available on the Polk County Emergency Management Facebook page.

Disaster Declaration Extended

LIVINGSTON -- During a brief meeting Thursday morning, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy’s disaster declaration issued Aug. 25 was extended for an additional 30 days by the Polk County Commissioners Court.

The meeting was held at the Polk County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) where the commissioners and other officials could receive the latest information regarding the havoc created by Hurricane Harvey in Polk County.

Much of the damage was along the Trinity River downstream from the Lake Livingston Dam, which due to the massive amounts of rainfall throughout the region, was releasing more than 110,000 cubic feet of water per second on Monday. Because a cubic foot of water contains 7.48 gallons, there were more than 827,000 gallons of water being released from the dam each second.

The rising waters along the river prompted Murphy to revise a voluntary evacuation order for the area issued Monday morning to a mandatory order the following morning.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Polk County’s Chief Deputy Sheriff Byron Lyons during an visit at the OEM Command Center Thursday. “The community has really been pulling together to help get through this situation.

“People who would normally probably not speak to one another are banding together to help each other. It is just unbelievable,” Lyons said.

Lyons and other officials at the command center also expressed relief that no deaths or major injuries had been attributed to the storm, although a number of medical issues have been attributed to the stress generated by the storm and the destruction along the river and the creeks which feed into it.

Murphy noted there has been an outpouring of support from people wanting to volunteer their time to help with the situation, adding that a list has been created and they will be contacted as needed. Volunteers -- primarily volunteer firefighters -- along with local, state and federal employees have been working to oversee the evacuations and the Dunbar Gym evacuation center in Livingston.

The gym, which was opened Monday soon after Murphy issued the voluntary evacuation order, was set up to house 80 people and ended up providing shelter to 53 local residents. Donations of food, clothing, water and other items poured in to help.

Nancy Brown, who volunteered to serve as the public information officer for this event, noted one major issue being created by some people is the moving of barricades and the removal of warning tape along some county roads covered with flood waters.

“We ran out of barricades and had to start using yellow warning tape to try to keep traffic off flooded sections of roads,” she explained.

Some motorists, apparently those with high-clearance trucks, came along and moved the barricades or took down the tape in order to get through. This meant the next vehicle that came along had no warning and would drive into the high water.

Officials are asking motorists to stay off the roads as much as possible, noting that due to the heavy rains the unpaved county roads are extremely vulnerable to damage.

Brown noted that the OEM Command Center is posting notices of road conditions twice a day and this information is available on the Polk County Emergency Management Facebook page.

And The Sun Also Rises

sunalsorises 640

After days and days of rain, the sun finally shows itself. Good riddance to Hurricane Harvey!

Enterprise Digital Eype edition free for two weeks

We want our readers to get all the information available about the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in our area.

We are making the Digital Etype full edition of our newspaper free for two weeks.

Simply locate the Etype edition graphic in the right sidebar of our website at www.polkenterprise.com and click on it, then click on the image of the newspaper to read the full edition online.

MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDERED - Below Lake Livingston Dam

MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDERED

A mandatory evacuation was issued Tuesday morning at 10:40 a.m. for residents in the unincorporated areas of Polk County below Lake Livingston Dam along the Trinity River.

Residents able to leave their homes should leave now. Shelter can be found in Livingston at the Dunbar Gymnasium (address: 1103 Dunbar, Livingston, TX 77351).

Responding agencies are making final contact with residents needing to evacuate. Those who ignore the Mandatory Evacuation Order should not expect agency support in the designated area until conditions are safe and the Mandatory Order is lifted.
The order signed by Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy is as follows:

State of Texas
County of Polk

TROPICAL STORM HARVEY 2017: ORDER OF MANDATORY EVACUATION FROM UNINCORPORATED AREAS OF POLK COUNTY, TEXAS IN THE LOW-LYING AREAS BELOW THE LAKE LIVINGSTON DAM ALONG THE TRINITY RIVER
TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2017 AT 10:40 A.M.

Whereas, on the 26th day of August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coast and weakened into a tropical storm that has continued to remain over the southeastern Texas coast and Polk County, and bring extremely heavy rainfall to Polk County causing flooded roadways and damage to bridges and culverts. Rising waters along the Trinity River is endangering the health and safety of persons and property below the Lake Livingston Dam and along the Trinity River within Polk County, Texas;

Whereas, many roadways within subdivisions below the Lake Livingston Dam and along the Trinity River in unincorporated areas of Polk County have become impassable and many structures have flooded or will soon flood due to heavy rains and flooding;
Whereas, there is concern that first responders will no 'longer be able to reach these residents due do to flooded roadways within these areas;

Whereas, a local state of disaster for Polk County has been declared; and Whereas, the County Judge is authorized under the Constitution and Laws of the State of Texas to take such actions the County Judge considers necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response, and recovery.

that:
Now Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED by the County Judge of Polk County, Texas,
1.) The County Judge FINDS that a MANDATORY EVACUATION of persons from the unincorporated areas of Polk County, Texas, in areas below the Lake Livingston Dam and along the Trinity River is necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response, or recovery;
2.) A MANDATORY EVACUATION of persons from the unincorporated areas of Polk County, Texas, located in areas below the Lake Livingston Dam and along the Trinity River is hereby ORDERED; issued herein SHALL BEGIN IMMEDIATELY ON TUESDAY AUGUST 29, 2017 at 10:40 a.m.;
4.) The issuance of this MANDATORY EVACUATION shall NOT preclude the County Judge from taking further actions the County Judge considers necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response, or recovery and includes the following provisions;
Sec. -418185. MANDATORY EVACUATION. (a) This section does not apply to a person who is authorized to be in an evacuated area, including a person who returns to the area under a phased reentry plan or credentialing Texas Emergency Management Statutes( 51 process under Section 418050. (b) A county judge or mayor of a municipality who orders the evacuation of an area stricken or threatened by a disaster by order may compel persons who remain in the evacuated area to leave and authorize the use of reasonable force to remove persons from the area. (c) The governor and a county judge or mayor of a municipality who orders the evacuation of an area stricken or threatened by a disaster by a concurrent order may compel persons who remain in the evacuated area to leave. (di A person is civilly liable to a governmental entity, or a nonprofit agency cooperating with a governmental entity, that conducts a rescue on the person‘s behalf for the cost of the rescue effort if: (1) the person knowingly ignored a mandatory evacuation order under this section and: (A) engaged in an activity or course of action that a reasonable person would not have engaged in; or (B) failed to take a course of action a reasonable person would have taken; (2) the person‘s actions under Subdivision (1) placed the person or another person in danger; and (3) a governmental rescue effort was undertaken on the person's behalf. (e) An officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision who issues or is working to carry out a mandatory evacuation order under this section is immune from civil liability for any act or omission within the course and scope of the person's authority under the order. A 5.) This ORDER shall be given prompt and general publicity and shall be tiled promptly with the County Clerk of Polk County, Texas; and
6.) This ORDER shall take effect immediately from and after its issuance. It is hereby ORDERED on this, the 29th day of August, 2017.

ORDERED this the 29th Day of August 2017.
Sydney Murphy, County Judge
Polk County, Texas

Polk County accepting donations for flood affected residents

Polk County will receive item donations for our residents evacuating from flood affected areas. These items include bottled water, new toiletries, new clothing, diapers and wipes. The item donation drop-off point is the Polk County Maintenance Building located at 110 Allie Bean Drive in Livingston.