Early morning flood creeps up on locals

Weather brings above-average rain, forecast clears up soon

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Heavy rainfall early Monday morning caught some folks off-guard, sparking two high-water rescues by Kilgore Rescue Unit and other first responders.

The night’s precipitation saw the brief return of Lake Meadowbrook, forcing Kilgore Police officers to barricade a stretch of Houston Street until the waters receded from Meadowbrook Park and the golf course across the street.

A blast of moister-laden wind from the Gulf of Mexico collided with a frontal boundary along Interstate 20, a National Weather Service spokesman confirmed Tuesday, dropping a lot of rain and sending temperatures falling.

Expect better weather later this week, meteorologist Aaron Davis added.

“Don’t get down about the weather right now,” he said Tuesday, “because going into the weekend there’s going to be some opportunity for people to see some nice weather and spend the weekend barbecuing.”

According to Kilgore Rescue Unit Chief Edgar Rachal, Monday started early for the emergency personnel as they, along with Crims Chapel volunteer firefighters, responded to vehicle stalled in water on County Road 173 south of FM 1249.

“Honestly, I don’t think any of us really expected that much rain,” Rachal said. “We expected some rain to come in, but we never thought there would be that much.”

Multiple Rusk County roads were flooded that night. Fortunately, the vehicle on CR173 wasn’t in any swift water, Rachal noted.

That said, “It was probably close to knee-deep,” he added. There had been two men in the pickup: “One of the occupants had gotten out and left the scene on foot. The other one, for whatever reason, wanted to stay in the truck and didn’t want to get out.

“When my guys got on the scene, they tied a line onto the rescue truck and ran it out to the stranded pickup. Finally, he was coaxed out of the truck and walked to the bank.”

Before that call was finished, the crews were dispatched to another scene: a woman and three children, including an infant, were trapped in their home as it flooded in the deluge.

Along with Crims Chapel and the rescue unit, Henderson’s Rescue Squad and Kilgore firefighters responded to the home off Hwy. 259 south of FM 918.

“It sits off the road two or three hundred yards,” Rachal said. “It being a low-lying area, it actually looked like a lake.”

Inside the house, the water was about 12 inches-deep. Calling for help, the woman and children took refuge on a bed as they waited. Good thing, according to the rescue chief.

“There was no way those people were going to get out of that house without somebody coming after them. The water between 259 and the house had a very strong current.”

Henderson’s personnel provided a boat and the victims were quickly evacuated.

“Everyone was safe and sound,” Rachal said. It’s not an uncommon problem, he added, but one that can be remedied with some research: “When people rent or buy a house, you really need to look at the layout of the land.”

Another family in the same general area was trapped in a similar situation a few years back, he said. Kilgore firefighters assisted in rescuing the people via a fire engine ladder stretched across the rushing waters.

“If that water comes up in the middle of the night when you’ve been sleeping, I can understand getting caught,” Rachal added, encouraging residents to have an escape plan ahead of time, just in case. Meanwhile, don’t risk standing water on roads: “When you see water, you don’t know how deep it is. You don’t know if it washed part of the road away.”

According to Davis, Sunday’s rush of rain was the tail of two different weather stories.

“Basically along the I-20 corridor we had a stalled out frontal boundary. That was interacting with a strong northerly wind that was bringing a lot of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. The two collided, driving upward. “That was helping drive the narrow band of heavy rains that we had. These winds were interacting with that stalled boundary and that kept providing more and more moisture.

“That front got it cranking. This was a very deep, long front. That’s what’s responsible for the cooler temperatures that we are seeing.”

Those temperatures will ease-off, Davis added.

“For the sub-freezing temperatures in particular, we are going to be looking at maybe just a couple of days,” with today’s high of 38 degrees giving way to a 52-degree high Thursday. “We’re looking at a 48- to 72-hour window.”

According to Kilgore weather-watcher B.J. Clark, his gauge on South Higginbotham Road measured 0.2 inches of rainfall Sunday and 2.4 inches Monday. A similar on Danville Road just south of Stone Road, measured three inches Nov. 12.

“A friend who lives south of here, about five miles, they had five inches,” Clark said Tuesday.

According to Davis, the National Weather Service has, so far, recorded 5.69 inches of rain this month at its Longview monitoring station – November typically averages 4.5 inches.

Look for brighter days ahead, he added Tuesday.

“It’s bleak and it’s cloudy out, but man, we’re going to get a stretch of pretty nice weather going into the weekend,” Davis said. “The temperatures are going to climb back up, especially going into Friday and Saturday. We’re looking at highs in the low- to mid-60s.”

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