People living in low-lying areas along the San Bernard River cleared out for the second time in a month after the river rose feet above the major flood stage Thursday.
The San Bernard River gauge near Old Ocean and Hanson Riverside County Park showed the river at 18.73 feet and climbing Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service. Major flood stage is 16 feet.
Though forecasters expected to river to reach major flood stage in early May, it crested just below the major stage.
The Brazos River near Rosharon remained in minor flood stage at about 43.8 feet Thursday evening and is not projected to rise.
The San Bernard River rose quickly this time, Precinct 4 Commissioner David Linder said, attributing it to the 11-plus inches of rain that fell in the area west of the Brazos River to the Colorado River, from Brazoria to Wharton.
“The heaviest of rains unfortunately fell right there,” Linder said.
The 150-mile San Bernard River runs from Colorado County to the Gulf of Mexico, a rather short distance compared to the Brazos River’s 1,200 miles, Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta said. The San Bernard has no flood control, reservoirs or dams like the Brazos does, he said.
It’s not a big watershed, so a lot of rain right on top of it will cause it to rise, Sebesta said.
The good news is the mouth of the river is partially open so the water is flowing into the Gulf, Linder said, but it is unfortunate the residents are being faced with high water again.
“Living on the river is either paradise or hell,” Linder said one of his constituents said to him Thursday.
The river is beautiful but it switches quickly, Linder said, adding residents along the river are either enjoying it or struggling against mother nature.
The San Bernard is expected to crest tonight at about 25 feet, which is 5 feet lower than its peak after Hurricane Harvey, Brazoria County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Glenn LaMont said.
“Be aware, it is going to flood,” he said. “There’s no doubt.”
The river looks to be following fairly close to projections from the National Weather Service this time, and hopefully there won’t be much more rain, Sebesta said.
Fire departments, constables, deputies and road and bridge crews are patrolling the roads officials know will go under water so they can immediately get barricades in place when needed, LaMont said.
These roads include CR 506 north of FM 521, CR 244, CR 244A, CR 797 and CR 825, some of which already have water on them, he said. It could affect FM 522, which runs between Highway 36 above Wild Peach and into Sweeny, depending on how high the water gets, he said.
People should remain aware and keep an eye on the river in case they need to get out, Sebesta said.
Water already covered CR 825 by Lazy G RV Park already by early Thursday afternoon, prompting its residents' second evacuation in a month.
The 18-foot stage means water is over the top of the dock at the Phillips Terminal near Sweeny with all vessel traffic stopped, according to the National Weather Service. Phillips 66 did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
By the 25-foot stage, the lowest homes along CR 244A, CR 506 and CR 747A should flood, the National Weather Service website states.
Linder didn’t know of specific homes that had flooded at about 5 p.m. Thursday, but the river is expected to impact some homes, he said.
“The people who live along there are some strong, good people,” Linder said. “They’ll bounce back, we’ll bounce back. We’ll dry off and move forward.”