‘If you called, we are coming’
Deluged Port Arthur struggles to cope
Residents of Port Arthur posted urgent pleas for rescue on social media Wednesday as the Texas city struggled to function after days of hammering rains from Tropical Storm Harvey that forced the nation’s largest oil refinery to close.
The city was slammed by more than 2 feet of rain over 24 hour, which flooded the civic center that had been serving as a shelter for more than 100 evacuees. A community center then was set up to house people.
“Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!” Mayor Derrick Freeman, whose own home was swamped in 3 feet of water, said in a Facebook post. “If you called, we are coming. Please get to higher ground.”
Freeman sounded a common theme across the region, imploring volunteers with boats to help. “We need it,” he said.
Water flowed like rivers in streets. At the Gulf Health nursing home, about a dozen boats were lined up outside in chestdeep water. Emergency crews, along with fisherman and volunteers, worked to remove residents, many of whom were bedridden and in wheelchairs. Video showed some residents in their beds, the water up to their mattresses.
Rescue efforts at one point were slowed by an apartment fire that forced first-responders to evacuate residents of the complex. Lightning also delayed the operation, Freeman said.
Freeman said the Coast Guard has helicopters and boats deployed around the city and the National Guard is operating out of the local Walmart parking lot.
“Continue to call 911 if you are unsafe,” Freeman said in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon. “We’re coming y’all.”