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Harris County forms new Flood Rescue Group in time for potential flooding this week

The Harris County Flood Control District also has more ways to gauge rapidly rising water.

HOUSTON, Texas — Whenever it rains heavily in the Houston area so comes the threat of flooding.

"Any day that we have to deploy these is a bad day,” said Harris County Sheriff's Sgt. John Gonzalez.

The HCSO formed a Flood Rescue Group to specifically respond to high-water rescues using trucks obtained from the military and re-painted and re-used by local law enforcement agencies.

"In the military, I have put these vehicles in water up to the windows," said HCSO Sgt. Brian Goldstein. "It’s not recommended because you could flood the engine out and obviously we’re not going to do that in order to save the vehicle so we can keep them in service longer.”

A new group of deputies were certified to operate the vehicles just last week.

"It’s an all-around good tool to go, you know, in the high water areas and still be able to navigate safely,” said Gonzalez.

Tracking how rapidly water rises is another priority for the county which recently installed a number of new gauges along creeks and bayous.

"We have upwards of almost 300 and something flood gauges now,” said Harris County Flood Control District meteorologist Jeff Lindner.

HCFCD told KHOU 11 News the devices provide real-time rainfall totals and stream elevations.

The data is then transferred to an online flood warning system that illustrates how high a creek or bayou has gotten and the flooding footprint.

"But it is that real-time gauging of what is happening right now at these locations that is so beneficial and so important to these types of situations,” said Lindner.

They're situations which the Houston area has dealt with many times in recent years and after which readiness and response only improve.

“Harvey set a new standard for flood preparation,” said Goldstein.

The Harris County Precinct One Constable's Office recently added a boat with an inboard motor in order to more easily navigate shallow flooded neighborhoods.

It also added a wheelchair lift to its high-water rescue vehicle because so many disabled and elderly people had to be picked up during Harvey. 

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