Image: The fallen tree that ended the life of 60-year-old Lisa Jones of Porter who was asleep in the bedroom of her trailer when rain saturation caused the tree to fall. Jones is one of two known deaths to have occurred in Montgomery County as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey.
Montgomery County, August 29 – While County Commissioners James Noack (Precinct 3), Jim Clark (Precinct 4), and Charlie Riley (Precinct 2) have responded to the flooding and related threats from Tropical Storm Harvey in an excellent manner, Montgomery County is mourning the loss of two individuals known to have died during the catastrophe.
Noack emphasized, “First and foremost, we’re a great community. It’s been inspiring to watch everything. I’ve been up working or almost three days straight. It’s the most rewarding thing I get to do in my job.”
Noack told The Golden Hammer, that during a natural disaster, such as Tropical Storm Harvey, one of the main jobs of the County Commissioner is to provide information to the residents within his Precinct so that they can make decisions about how to respond. Noack has provided an almost continuous stream of information to the public during Harvey through social media, press releases, videos, and direct interaction with the County Commissioner.
The National Weather Service has issued the following forecast for areas which Tropical Storm Harvey has afflicted in Montgomery County and north Harris County:
“Heavy rain will continue to inundate this area with 2 to 3 inches of rain per hour. Another foot or more of rainfall in the Greater Houston area is expected.
“Tropical Storm Harvey is centered off the coast and southeast of Matagorda Bay and will turn and begin moving northeast on Tuesday, and should be northeast of our area on Thursday morning. The heaviest rain threat should end late Wednesday. The Woodlands area can expect between 4 to 6 inches of additional rain with a possibility of a total of 10+ inches through Thursday.
“The thread of tornadoes in the outer bands have shifted to the east of the area, indicating that there is only a slight risk of tornadoes through Tuesday.”
Both Jace Houston, Executive Director of the San Jacinto River Authority, and Clark have noted that the West Fork of the San Jacinto River is cresting more than a foot higher than it did during the 1994 flood. Houston said that he anticipates 3 to 7 inches of rain tonight and as much as 15 inches of rain between now and Thursday.
Sheriff Rand Henderson has explained, “We’re not out of the woods yet. We’re still facing area-wide flooding.”
Lisa Jones of Porter
The Sheriff’s Department’s Communications Center received a welfare check call yesterday to the 17400 block of Louis Lane in Porter. An elderly male homeowner told the Sheriff’s Deputies that a tree had fallen on the residence and his wife, Lisa Jones, age 60, was either trapped or hurt inside.
The tree appeared to have fallen on the trailer home due to the large amount of rain saturation from Tropical Storm Harvey. The elderly man told the Deputies that he was sitting in the residence when the tree fell on their home. He screamed for his wife who had gone to the bedroom to take a nap. The husband was unable to get to her, so he sought help.
The Sheriff’s Deputies found Lisa Jones deceased inside the trailer. The investigation revealed that Lisa Jones lost her life when the tree fell on her while she was asleep in the bedroom of the trailer.
Members of the Porter Fire Department also arrived at the scene and assisted.
Second deceased, still unidentified
Clark told this newspaper that there is a second person in the Porter area who was trapped in the second floor of her home during an attempted rescue on Saturday, August 26, 2017, by Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden’s law enforcement team. According to Clark, the water rose so quickly that Hayden and his deputies were unable to save the person whose home is still under water.
Clark complimented Hayden and his team. “They’re doing amazing work, saving people around the clock, non-stop. I saw them rescue someone who was caught in a tree 20 feet off the ground where they had escaped to try to avoid rising floodwaters.”
Precinct 4: East Montgomery County
This flooding “is like nothing I’ve ever seen in this community,” Clark said. “We currently have over two hundred people at the East Montgomery County Shelter. The Office of Emergency Management wants us transfer people to the Conroe Convention Center and use the Shelter here as a staging area.”
Clark explained that the City of Patton Village Police Department has evacuated more than three hundred people using school buses to get them out of their neighborhoods. In total, Clark estimates than more than one thousand residents of East Montgomery County have been displaced from their homes during Tropical Storm Harvey. “We’ve just gotten caught up from the Tax Day flooding last year. Now, we’re facing a far more severe problem, including erosion of soils under bridges and damage to new asphalt in road improvements.”
Clark agreed with Noack about the strength of this community. “I want to thank everybody who has reached out and who has brought supplies and clothes. The East Montgomery County Improvement District really helped us pull together. A church group came over with an 18-wheeler full of supplies. It’s amazing how our community has come together.”
Clark noted that there a dozens of new subdivisions without flood insurance where the homes have flooded to their rooftops. “Those losses are likely completely uninsured.”
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley has done an excellent job responding to the Tropical Storm Harvey catastrophe. Although residents have continued to complained that Riley is difficult to reach, doesn’t respond to telephone calls, and only communicates to the outside world through a one-way Facebook page, in actuality Riley has been out in the storm for almost the entirety of the past three days.
Riley held an emergency meeting with fire department and law enforcement officials on Thursday, August 24, 2017, at his Precinct 2 office. As the rain from the storm began, Riley has spent the last three days out on the roads of Precinct 2 identifying problems, directing his road crews, and informing law enforcement and fire department officials of areas where they need help.
While Riley’s style may be a bit more aloof than Noack or Clark when it comes to direct communications with his constituents, no one should fault him for keeping the roads and bridges of Precinct 2 in as good a condition as possible over the last 72 hours.
Loose boats on Lake Conroe
One of the greatest safety threats in the north Montgomery County area is loose boats on Lake Conroe. Houston observed that he’s seen boats moving towards the spillway of the Lake Conroe Dam but that Precinct 1 Constable Philip Cash and his deputies “are diligently working with the SJRA to make sure none of those boats get close enough to harm the Dam.”
Many people have observed loose boats floating in many parts of the lake, including one boat that actually floated all the way into the living room of a home on the edge of Lake Conroe.
Constable Cash has his hands full with this problem, because loose boats are very dangerous and can have enormous momentum force upon impact with people or property.
Inspiration from Steve Toth
Former State Representative Steve Toth, who is running for his old seat again in the March, 2018, Republican Primary Election, has spent most of the past two days bringing and distributing food to the workers and volunteers who are assisting people in Commissioner’s Precinct 3.
“I personally watched Commissioner Noack lead a water rescue where he and some deputy constables saved some people,” Toth told The Golden Hammer.
“I’m so proud the way Texas has come together in this disaster. I’m proud of my Governor and of [Houston Mayor] Sylvester Turner and the way they’ve worked together. They’ve shown real leadership in bringing us together to help people put their lives back in order.”