Texas Residents Evacuated to Make Dam Repairs

9-26-05 - Hundreds of residents in several East Texas towns were evacuated over the weekend amid fears that water being intentionally released into the Trinity River could flood their homes.

The Trinity River Authority was releasing water at a rate of 79,200 cubic feet per second from the Lake Livingston Dam to take pressure off the 30-year-old structure, which suffered erosion damage during Hurricane Rita.

People living in low-lying areas of three counties _ Liberty, Polk and San Jacinto _ were expecting flooding as a result, said John Jadrosich, a spokesman for the authority. The water release began Saturday and was expected to continue until noon Tuesday.

"It's a very unfortunate situation," Jadrosich said. "We are doing our best to get the situation resolved."

About 600 residents in small towns and subdivisions in the eastern part of San Jacinto County were evacuated Saturday, with 300 of them staying at shelters in Shepherd and Coldspring, county spokeswoman Judy Eaton said. She didn't know how long residents would have to be away from their homes.

Liberty Mayor Bruce Halstead Sunday ordered as many as 500 people in a lower income residential area in a part of the city called the South Liberty Oil Fields to leave their homes.

Residents in low lying areas along the river in Polk County had also been asked to evacuate their homes. County officials did not immediately know how many people were told to leave.