Wharton County hit by worst flood in century

Although Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast on Friday, five days later, the nightmare was still beginning for Wharton County.

The Colorado River has a history of damaging floods, but on Wednesday, the water rose to levels it hasn’t seen since 1913. It was surreal for residents in Wharton County, as they watched the river spill into their homes.

“Yesterday [Tuesday] at about 11 a.m., the first little trickle of water started coming across from the Colorado River,” said Joe King, whose home in Glen Flora was affected by the floods. “Within an hour and a half, it was fully flooded across.”

The Colorado River in Wharton crested at 50.46 feet Wednesday, rising more than 11 feet over the flood stage. Water levels there haven’t reached that high in 104 years, leaving concern for the homes in its wake.

“I’ve seen a lot of water,” said Logan Woodruff, whose grandparents live in Wharton County. “I’ve never seen the river up this high and there’s a lot of flooding. I just hope they don’t get water in their house.”

With danger from the floods escalating quickly, there was even more at stake than just human lives. People from nearby towns drove over to help rescue animals that had to be left behind when residents evacuated.

“The first dog we saved today, he was on a porch,” said Heath Dominguez, who came in from El Campo to help rescue animals. “The porch had about 6 inches of water on it and he was just standing around. For the most part, they’re just trying to find someplace dry. The goats were on one little piece of road that was dry and as soon as I got up there, they didn’t want to get into the water at all.”

With many surrounding ranches and farms, many animals had to be saved, including King’s 18 rescue dogs and two donkeys.

“I’m really grateful for those people helping us,” said King. “I still kind of tear up when I think about it, because that was amazing, that they would just come help us like that.”

Even people from across Texas traveled there to help however they could.

“From what I’ve seen and heard, with Texans doing what they do, it’s pretty impressive,” said Rikky Zamora, who drove from Laredo to lend a hand. “We’re just trying to do our part.”

While the hearts of strangers helped saved people’s and animals’ lives, the homes left behind are another story – one that has a long road of recovery ahead.

“Our lives have been forever changed here,” said King. “Certainly over the next several years, we’re going to be feeling the impacts of this, significantly.”