Floodwaters reach Orange County; more expected  

Published 4:54 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016

All eyes were on Orange County Tuesday while floodwaters coming down the Sabine River overflowed banks, rendering roads impassable and property underwater in low-lying places.

Widespread major flooding is expected to continue until after Thursday when the Sabine crests at an anticipated record-breaking 7.4 feet above sea — 3.4 feet above the river’s 4.0 flood stage

In anticipation of the major flooding numerous areas of Orange County were issued either mandatory or voluntary evacuation notices.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Areas north of I-10 in Orange are under a mandatory evacuation while residents in other areas south of the interstate are told to leave their homes and businesses including all of the Cove and portions of Pinehurst.

North of Vidor, the Lakeview area was also issued a voluntary evacuation order.

Early Tuesday Interstate 10 was closed in Orange, but reopened early afternoon while westbound lanes of the interstate remained closed in Louisiana through the flooded areas in Calcasieu Parish.

By Tuesday afternoon reports of traffic backups along the interstate in Louisiana were published.

Joe Mires, Orange County Emergency Management spokesperson said emergency workers were monitoring the floodwaters, and that the interstate in Texas could be closed again at any time.

“Right now it’s just a very fluid situation,” Mires said.

Governor Greg Abbott is expected to visit the area Wednesday to assess the damage and will hold an afternoon press conference.

Orange County was among 17 counties Abbott declared a state of disaster from last week’s torrential rains that blanketed East Texas and Western Louisiana.

While Southeast Texas did not get the amount of rainfall that was seen in East and Northeast Texas, Orange County and Newton County, as well as parts of Louisiana on the other side of the Sabine have been inundated with outfall waters from the Toledo Bend Reservoir. The reservoir reached a record level high of 174.36 feet mean sea level Thursday.

The Sabine River in Newton County crested Tuesday. At 8:45 a.m. the flood stage was 33.1 feet, a little more than 9 feet above sea level.

Orange County officials have warned residents to recall flooding from Hurricane Ike. Whatever level of water they had then, flooding from the Sabine is expected to be 2 feet lower.

In preparation for the major flooding, Texas State Guard is staged at the Montagne Center in Beaumont.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced it would be implementing a “Safety Corridor” on the Sabine River North of I-10. This will mean that Coast Guard permission will be needed for all water operations in the affected area.

Adding to the rising water is a 20 percent chance of rain moving into the area Wednesday. Rain chances increase to 40 percent Thursday and 50 percent Friday and then begin to taper off Saturday, according to the National Weather Service’s Lake Charles office.

Mires on Tuesday afternoon said the brunt of the water was in between Deweyville in Newton County and areas north of I-10 in Orange.

The river is still rising; we have about 1 and a half feet still to go in Orange,” he said.

E-mail: sherry.koonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews