FORT BEND, Texas — Fort Bend County emergency officials have spent two days preparing to respond to the system that’s become Tropical Storm Imelda.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the county’s emergency operations center was in readiness mode. Though it wasn’t activated, staff inside was busy working with other city officials and first responders to make sure equipment was in place for a sudden ramp-up.
Mark Flathouse, Emergency Management Coordinator for Fort Bend County, said staff were also put on standby.
Mother Nature tested the county in May, when several inches of rain fell over just a few hours. It made every major street in Sugar Land impassible, swamped cars, and flooded more than 150 homes in unincorporated areas.
“I think we’re more prepared,” said Flathouse. “(The previous storm) lasted for a day and a half, and it dumped a lot of water very quickly. Our rivers were already up at that time, so it had less places for it to drain and go to. Our drainage ditches were being worked on.”
However, as Tropical Storm Imelda moves inland, Flathouse says river levels are at an all-time low, and the ditches are dry.
Still, the recent drought conditions do bring drawbacks.
“The ground is dry right now, so as the water goes, it’ll run off of it a lot quicker right now until it absorbs more of the moisture,” said Flathouse.
His biggest concerns: localized flash flooding on streets and letting those roads drain properly. Flathouse is also urging drivers to turn around when they see water.
“Stay home,” he said. “That’s the best thing to say in the evening hours when it gets kind of dark or in the rain coming down.”
Flathouse says the county has not identified any specific areas of flooding concern. He says boats, high water rescue vehicles, and barricades have been staged strategically around the county.