Saturday, December 9, 2023
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Area Firefighters Still Helping with Panhandle Flooding

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TX– Montgomery County firefighters are still providing assistance to agencies and communities in the Texas panhandle where flooding has plagued communities for weeks. Local departments are part of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS), which uses state funds to train and mobilize firefighters from all over Texas to assist departments overwhelmed because of natural disasters such as flooding or wildfires.

Porter Fire Chief Carter Johnson said Monday that local firefighters had moved their efforts from Childress to Amarillo over the last several days. Johnson said if more rain doesn’t fall in the flooded area, local firefighters may be able to head home soon. If assistance is required for longer than anticipated, Chief Johnson said personnel may be swapped so those who have been on-duty in the flooded area can return home. He said TIFMAS only allows firefighters to be deployed for 21 days at a time, and then replacement personnel would have to take over.

The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the area this afternoon that sounds bleak for panhandle residents.

“Thunderstorms will be possible through tonight across mainly northern and eastern sections of the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles. A few storms may become strong to severe, with large hail and damaging winds the primary hazards. In addition, heavy rain will likely accompany the strongest storms, which may lead to flooding or flash flooding.”

The NWS issued a Flood Warning Sunday for the area, to remain in effect until 5 p.m. today, along with a flood warning. The NWS announcements contain precautionary and alarming language unlike those seen in the Montgomery County area during flooding events:

“In hilly terrain there are hundreds of low water crossings which are potentially dangerous in heavy rain. Do not attempt to cross flooded roads. Find an alternate route.”

“Remain alert for flooding even in locations not receiving rain. Arroyos, streams, and rivers can become raging killer currents in a matter of minutes, even from distant rainfall.”

Area departments participating in the effort include Porter Fire Department, Stafford Fire Department, North Montgomery County Fire Department (Willis), New Waverly Fire Department, Eastex Fire Department, South Montgomery County Fire Department (The Woodlands), Humble Fire Department, and Timberlakes Volunteer Fire Department. They are part of “Strike Team 115” and are assisting with rescues and evacuation.

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