Residents mop-up following floods

BY PJ HELLER | HOUSTON, TX | September 19, 1998


HOUSTON, TX (September 19, 1998) -- Residents along the Texas Gulf Coast mopped up

this week from Tropical Storm Frances, thankful that Tropical Storm Hermine

had apparently spared the Lone Star State.

After drenching Houston and other areas of Texas with up to 12 to 14 inches

of rain on Friday, Frances moved out of the Gulf and brought about 18

inches of rain to Louisiana.

In Texas, more than 2,000 families were affected by the storm in a

seven-county area, including Houston and Galveston, according to a

preliminary assessment by the American Red Cross. Most of the damage

appeared to be wet carpeting, furniture and sheet rock. One published

report estim

ated that more than 1,500 homes and businesses in Harris (Houston),

Brazoria, Galveston and Matagorda counties were affected by the high waters.

There was no immediate damage estimate, although one report put the figure

at upwards of $95 million. Another said damages would run into the hundreds

of millions of dollars.

Homes literally fell into the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston when Frances

struck the east Texas coastal city on Sept. 11. More than 1,000 homes

received damage. In Houston, city officials estimated damage at $95

million. No Texas deaths occurred, but at least five people were injured.

Both storms spawned tornadoes, which enhanced destruction brought by heavy

rains.

"We're still working on it (damage estimates)," Corina Love, deputy

coordinator for the division of emergency management in Houston, said

late last week. "We're still crunching the numbers."

Shelters opened by the the Salvation Army and American Red Cross closed

last weekend after people were able to return to their homes. However,

Galveston officials, fearing additional flooding from tides predicted to be

three feet above normal, reopened their emergency operations center on

Monday and urged residents on the west end of the peninsula to voluntarily

leave their homes. The Salvation Army was providing a shelter.

Love said that flooding in the Houston area was not as bad as it could have

been.

"We've had worse flooding down here," Love said, noting that in 1994 water

was "up to the ceilings in homes" and homes were "going down the bayous."

Norm Hein of Lutheran Disaster Response and a regional facilitator for

Church World Service, said he spoke with Houston Interfaith Ministries and

did not expect that any faith-based relief efforts would be required on the

Houston area.

The Red Cross opened several service centers, including ones in Houston and

Galveston, to assist people affected by the storms. Outreach teams were

also scheduled to visit less densely populated areas, said Russell Hubbard,

a Red Cross spokesman.

Frances was the second tropical system to hit Texas this season. The first

was Charley, which devastated the Del Rio area.

Updated September 19, 1998


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