River flooding chases dozens from homes in southeast Texas, including some in FEMA trailers

Monday, October 23rd 2006, 10:39 am
By: News On 6

VIDOR, Texas (AP) _ Rising floodwaters forced dozens of people from their homes Monday, including some residents who have been living in government trailers since Hurricane Rita struck southeast Texas last year.

Heavy rains saturated the area last week and flowed downstream into the Neches River, which spilled over its banks and rose nearly 8 feet above flood stage Monday.

Although the river later dropped by about 2 inches, the water was expected to remain high through Thursday, said Jeff Kelley, emergency management coordinator for Orange County, about 100 miles northeast of Houston.

Kelley estimated about 40 homes had been destroyed as of Sunday.

Officials continued assessing damage on Monday. The damage varied from home to home because some had been built on stilts while others sit at ground level. In some cases, water was up to the roof lines.

The area was hit hard by Hurricane Rita last year, and Kelley said a number of Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers were still in the area.

The flooding damaged homes in the communities of Lakeview, Connely Road and Four Oaks Ranch Road.

Gov. Rick Perry declared nine counties disaster areas. He also ordered state agencies to be on standby for rescue efforts if the remnants of Hurricane Paul bring more rain in the coming days. Paul was roaring toward the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula late Monday.