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Sheriff: Port Arthur residents are standing in water

This is a fire in the 4300 block of Kylewood Court in Port Arthur. According to witnesses. the fire has spread to three houses. The fire department has not reached them. The neighborhood is evacuating. (Submitted photo)

A large number of water rescues are needed in Port Arthur with 10 to 15 feet of water heading their way and no resources to save them.

The situation in Port Arthur is dire, with homes expected to flood and residents there unsure of how to get out of the city.

Port Arthur city officials did not call for evacuations earlier Tuesday. Jefferson County emergency officials shut down rescue operations at nightfall Tuesday.

Sheriff Zena Stephens says the county resources can't get to Port Arthur because of the flooding.

Some Port Arthur residents are in survival mode, she said. There aren't enough people to answer 911 calls, according to multiple calls to KFDM/Fox 4 and Stephens.

We're also getting calls about house fires in Port Arthur.

"We're getting 911 and rescue calls but there's nothing we can do," Stephens said. "We can't take the boats out right now. The water is rising and it's coming there and it's no way to get to them.
"I think (the water) is coming into their homes."

Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said on his Facebook page the "whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!"

"If you called, we are coming," Freeman said. "Please get to higher ground if you can, but please try stay out of attics."

Jefferson County Pct. 3 Michael Sinegal, who represents Port Arthur on the commissioners court, told KFDM/Fox 4 he was getting calls from friends and strangers.

He also says Port Arthur is in survival mode. Sinegal told one woman to take shelter in her freezer because of how close she lives to a drainage ditch and the water is almost 4 feet into her home.

"We need boats. We need whatever it takes," Sinegal said.
"I'm just not seeing us as elected officials getting into survival mode for our citizens ... 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.

This comes on the heels of Houston setting a continental U.S. record with 49 inches of rain Tuesday. KFDM/Fox 4 Chief Meteorologist Greg Bostwick says he wouldn't be shocked if a part of our area received as much.

Radar shows an extreme amount of rain falling in mid and south Jefferson County. Bostwick said it's an "extreme flood event" and "a potentially dangerous situation."

Port Arthur is one of a few locations with more than 40 inches of rain Tuesday.

"It just doesn't want to stop. We keep hoping and we're seeing indications on satellite that the entire complex is weakening and it seems to be shrinking," Bostwick said. "But it's also concentrating in our populated areas, it seems like - particularly mid and south county. It's just right on that Highway 69/96 corridor. It's just hammering that one spot and it may just almost have to rain itself out.
"You hate to say that but it's the way it's looking."

The exact number of displaced Southeast Texans is unclear, but the heavy rainfall prompted most school districts to cancel school through Labor Day.

There are shelters in Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Jasper counties.

A Beaumont woman was killed trying to navigate floodwaters near Interstate 10 and 23rd Street, police said.

Police officers and two fire rescue divers used a boat to find the woman floating with her young daughter clinging onto her for life.


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