Torrential rain causes flash flooding in Southeast Texas

photo by Kevin King

A band of torrential rain and thunderstorms early Friday morning, July 18, triggered flash flooding over parts of Southeast Texas, shutting down several roads and submerging many vehicles of drivers attempting to traverse the rising waters.

TxDOT reported several road closures in Beaumont and Mid-County due to standing water including the intersections of SH346 and SH347 and FM366 and SH347, both in Port Neches, and Beaumont Police reported that several motorists were trapped in their vehicles in high water at the College Street and MLK Parkway underpass, the MLK at Pennsylvania underpass, and the intersection of 11th and Washington streets.

Rob Flores of BPD said between 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. there were a total of 31 flooded vehicles, three rescues and 14 minor crashes. There were no injuries reported.Around 7:30 a.m., Mo Simon, of Port Arthur said he was on his way to see his probation officer in Beaumont when he reached the underpass of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Lavaca Street. He attempted to cross the flooded underpass but noticed the water rising quickly over his vehicle.

“I was talking to my wife on the phone and said, ‘Look, I’ve got to back up. This water is getting deep.’ By the time I did that, my motor died and the water just started coming.”

Simon said he had to climb out of his sunroof to escape the vehicle.

“The water started rising up. The water was way on top of the vehicle. After I got into the water, it was up to here,” Simon said, pointing to his neck.

The 62-year-old said somehow he managed to push his car out of the floodwaters and was still, albeit a little late, able to make it to his probation appointment, which was within walking distance of his submerged vehicle.

“Thank God I was able to get out of there,” Simon said.

Jimmy Eason, alert technician for Jefferson County Drainage District No. 6, said the rain gauge at Tyrrell Park in Beaumont showed that as of 1 p.m. Friday, July 18, 7.99 inches of rain had fallen within the past 24-hours.