Montgomery County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts and his cousin, local businessman Wade Willis, spent most of Thursday in south Liberty County because of a desperate situation created by the flood.
Judge Metts said around 600 head of cattle, including about 350 full-grown cattle and 250 calves, are stranded in an area that locals call the “river bottom.” The land is adjacent to the Trinity River between Dayton and Liberty, on the north side of Highway 90. The acreage has higher and lower areas, and when water does not drain off quickly, the cattle and wildlife on the property can move to higher ground. This time, things are different. The Trinity River continues to rise, slowly covering the property and making inroads inaccessible, and an airboat the best mode of transportation. The cattle and some deer, including several fawns, are on an island that is getting smaller and smaller, Metts said.
“If it continues to rise, they will drown,” he said.
Metts and Willis went to assist the landowner who had been working feverishly to build a levy and stop the water, but has now realized the levy is not going to hold it back, since the water was already breaching it in some places. Originally, Metts and Willis were assisting by keeping a steady supply of fuel going to the equipment to expedite the levy project, but all three men had to refocus and begin trying to figure out how to save the cattle and the large excavator and bulldozer now surrounded by rising water at the levy.
“We contacted multiple agencies for ideas or assistance, and they were all very supportive,“ Metts said. “But there’s nothing anyone can do at this point, outside of bringing in a helicopter and flying them out. That would be quite an undertaking and extremely dangerous with such large animals.”
The cattle have grass to eat and are being closely monitored, so hay can be delivered to them if necessary. Unfortunately, starvation is not what is threatening the animals valued at approximately $1 million – it’s drowning.
Metts said they considered every possibility and contacted any and everyone else who might have a solution, but in the end, there was none. The trio is hoping the water will not rise so fast that it takes away the patch of land the cattle and other wildlife now occupy.