Chambers

Chambers County is expected to receive an additional 3- to 10-inches of rain thanks to Tropical Storm Imelda today, and into Friday morning, county officials say.

Chambers County Fire Marshal Ryan Holzaepfel said the wide variance is because of the impact of feeder bands, which he said couldn’t be properly forecasted.

Holzaepfel said there are no major road closures in Chambers County, but his team is on the lookout for any flooding or damage that may result in one.  

“If the forecast holds, we are expecting it to get worse,” he said.  

The National Weather Service for Houston/Galveston said a flash flood watch was in effect for many areas along the Gulf Coast including Chambers County until this morning. The NWS stated the flash flood watch might need to be modified as the heaviest rainfall threat could start to focus over east Texas. Street flooding and a quick rise of the bayous are expected. Tornado warnings were also issued Wednesday night with reports of one touching down in Mont Belvieu. 

The heavy rainfall threat is expected to decrease by Friday as Imelda moves well north of the area.

Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia issued a proclamation of a local state of disaster due to Imelda on Wednesday. In conjunction with the declaration, the Chambers County Operations Center was also activated as was the Chambers County Emergency Response Plan.

Holzaepfel said the storm impacted Chambers County with heavy rainfall beginning Tuesday evening. 

“The county experienced rainfalls averaging 4- to 6-inches of rain during the overnight hours and into (Wednesday morning),” Holzaepfel said. 

Holzaepfel said after the Chambers County EOC was activated, personnel began coordinating damage assessments throughout the county. This included the roads, county buildings and overall conditions countywide.

Holzaepfel said the declaration is not being issued because of any current damage, but rather because of the threat of the storm and its anticipated impact. 

“Let’s say we had a Category 3 storm was the threat,” Holzaepfel said. “We’d have to start evacuating and starting the EOC before that storm actually got here. The judge can issue that, saying there is an impending threat of what is coming in. That way, our emergency plan is activated, the EOC is started up, and the legal processes are triggered and in place.”

Holzaepfel said the disaster declaration will help those that experience damage with assistance, but only if a series of procedures take place. 

“For any disaster assistance to happen, like FEMA, it would have to be declared a disaster by the governor and, accepting local judges and mayors declarations, and the president would have to uphold the governor’s decision,” Holzaepfel said. “There is usually thresholds of damages that dictate whether that declaration happens higher up on the state and national levels. We hope this isn’t that kind of event. But in anticipation of it, due to the threat, Sylvia issued that local proclamation.”

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