Vic­to­ria braces for flood­ing; many lack power, wa­ter

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - HURRICANE HARVEY - By Sean Collins Walsh

VIC­TO­RIA — After de­cid­ing not to evac­u­ate their 93-yearold home in the Old Vic­to­ria neigh­bor­hood as Hur­ri­cane Har­vey ap­proached, Tom Dool­ing and his fam­ily spent Fri­day do­ing ev­ery­thing they could to prepare: board­ing up win­dows, bring­ing in out­door plants and fur­ni­ture, fill­ing the bath­tub with fresh wa­ter, pack­ing up im­por­tant doc­u­ments and mak­ing sure the flash­lights were ready to go.

But about 4 a.m. Satur­day, after his fam­ily had gone to bed and the power had failed, Dool­ing was up lis­ten­ing to the storm in­ten­sify and wish­ing that they had left town.

“Given choices, I wouldn’t have gone through that again. It was nasty,” said Dool­ing, a re­tired fire­fighter. “The scari­est thing to me was when the wind would start pick­ing up. You didn’t know if it was a twister or just a gust.”

In the end, the Dool­ings, like many oth­ers who ig­nored the manda­tory evac­u­a­tion no­tice for Vic­to­ria, woke Satur­day morn­ing to rel­a­tively mi­nor dam­age: two bro­ken fences and a mess in the yard, in their case.

Although Vic­to­ria, a city of 63,000, ap­peared to be di­rectly in Har­vey’s path be­fore dawn Satur­day, there were no re­ported fa­tal­i­ties or se­vere in­juries as of late Satur­day af­ter­noon, said Bryan Si­mons, a spokesman for the Vic­to­ria County sher­iff ’s of­fice.

But emer­gency work­ers aren’t cel­e­brat­ing yet. Se­vere flood­ing is ex­pected to hit the city dur­ing the next few days as Har­vey, now a trop­i­cal storm, con­tin­ues to dump im­mense amounts of rain while lin­ger­ing over the Coastal Bend area.

“It’s go­ing to come back around and go right over us,” Si­mons said.

By noon Satur­day, 11 inches had al­ready fallen on the city, Si­mons said. As rain runoff filled creeks and trib­u­taries while mak­ing its way down­stream, of­fi­cials pro­jected the Guadalupe River, which runs through Vic­to­ria, would crest Mon­day or Tues­day at about 32 feet, which is only 2 feet short of the record set in 1998. Flood stage is 21 feet, which the river had sur­passed by Fri­day evening.

“The rivers are al­ready com­ing up,” Si­mons said. “This is go­ing to be a very dire sit­u­a­tion.”

The storm has al­ready left about 24,000 area res- idents without power and dis­rupted the city of Vic­to­ria’s wa­ter ser­vice. For what­ever wa­ter res­i­dents are able to squeeze out of their pipes, of­fi­cials have is­sued a boil-wa­ter no­tice in case it is con­tam­i­nated.

Downed trees dam­aged many houses, and high winds ripped the roofs off of some less sub­stan­tial struc­tures, in­clud­ing garages. But no build­ings in and around the city cen­ter ap­peared to be lev­eled Satur­day, when steady rain and strong gusts of wind were still pum­melling the city.

Many res­i­dents who chose to stay cited their good for­tune in weath­er­ing Hur­ri­cane Claudette in 2003, the most re­cent to hit the re­gion head-on.

“We may have pro­cras­ti­nated be­cause of our ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Em­ber Dool­ing, Tom’s wife, said.

“This was way, way worse,” he said.

The Blanco River Re­cov­ery Team, formed after the 2015 floods, is still as­sist­ing fam­i­lies af­fected by those floods while get­ting ready for the ef­fects of Har­vey.

More than 1,000 fam­i­lies have been as­sisted in Hays, Blanco, Guadalupe and Cald­well coun­ties so far, the group said.

The team “is here per­ma­nently, ready to as­sist, but funds are stretched, and any and all do­na­tions are ap­pre­ci­ated,” Hays County Emer­gency Man­age­ment Co­or­di­na­tor Kharley Smith said.

Any­one who wishes to do­nate can visit www.br3t. org to give a tax-de­ductible do­na­tion.

As a re­sult of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, the av­er­age price for un­leaded gaso­line in Texas has jumped up 3 cents since Tues­day, to $2.16 per gal­lon, a AAA auto club spokesman said Satur­day.

For the lat­est gas price in­for­ma­tion for Texas and across the United States, go on­line to gasprices.aaa.com.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Em­ber and Tom Dool­ing boarded up their 93-year-old home in the Old Vic­to­ria neigh­bor­hood and rode out the storm. “Given choices, I wouldn’t have gone through that again. It was nasty,” said Dool­ing, a re­tired fire­fighter.

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