Disaster declaration issued for 23 counties in wake of severe flash flooding

By Bethany Blankley

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Tuesday for 23 counties after they experienced severe weather and flash flooding over the last couple of days in north Texas.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning around the Trinity River. At 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the river was at 38.64 feet, according to weather service data, just shy of 40 feet, which causes major flooding. By 4 p.m. Aug. 23, the river was at 36.41 feet.

The Dallas Fire Department rescued 21 people and 10 dogs from fast-moving waters after the area was deluged with nearly 10 inches of rain early Monday. It also responded to 195 "high water incidents" across the city. One person died as a result of the flash floods after her car was swept off a bridge: 60-year-old Uber driver from Mesquite, Texas, Joleen Jarrell.

At a news conference at Dallas City Hall, Abbott thanked emergency management personnel and first responders, and state and local officials, for their quick response to the historic flooding event.

"No challenge is too great for Texans to address, and I commend Mayor Johnson, the City of Dallas, and emergency response personnel for their prolific life-saving response to yesterday's unprecedented flooding event in North Texas," Abbott said. "The State of Texas will be ready and available to help all impacted communities every step of the way as they begin to navigate the recovery process in the aftermath of this storm."

He also asked Texans to join he and his wife in prayer “for all communities affected by this severe weather and for the family and loved ones of Jolene Jarrell."

The counties included in the disaster declaration are Camp, Culberson, Dallas, Duval, Ellis, El Paso, Henderson, Hopkins, Hudspeth, Kaufman, Kerr, Live Oak, Marion, Montague, Navarro, Pecos, Rains, Smith, Tarrant, Upshur, Van Zandt, Webb, and Wood.

While the flash flooding was dangerous, it could have been worse, according to data published by the National Weather Service. If the Trinity River reaches 40 feet, major flooding will occur in Dallas along the river between the levee banks, it says. At 42 feet, the S.L. & S.W. Railroad and Santa Fe railroad bridges in South Dallas flood. At 47 feet, industries along the river south of Dallas will flood. At 62 feet, the levees near downtown will be topped, the weather service states.

Texans impacted by severe weather and flash flooding in Dallas and all other affected regions are encouraged to file insurance claims with their providers and to complete TDEM's Self Reporting Damage Survey. The survey will help state emergency management officials identify damages across Texas and compile data needed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine the state's eligibility for federal disaster assistance.

The survey is voluntary and available in both English and Spanish: damage.tdem.texas.gov.

Reporting damage to TDEM is a voluntary activity, is not a substitute for reporting damage to an insurance agency, and does not guarantee disaster relief assistance, the governor’s office notes.

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