AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — First responders, and other officials with the city of Amarillo, provided an update during a Thursday afternoon news conference on rescues and other efforts related to the recent flooding and rainfall within Potter and Randall counties.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, significant rainfall over the last two weeks has caused numerous locations in the city of Amarillo, as well as Potter and Randall counties, to flood.
This flooding has led numerous governmental entities, including the city of Amarillo’s City Council, as well as the commissioners’ courts for both Potter and Randall counties, to implement and extend disaster declarations.
More recent rainfall on Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning caused evacuations for residents near South Georgia. As of around 4 p.m. Thursday, crews with the Amarillo Fire Department, as well as the dive team from the Amarillo Police Department, the Texas Task Force 1 and the Army National Guard, have rescued around 245 people, as well as 57 pets.
Jason Mays, the fire chief of the Amarillo Fire Department, said that crews from the department were on the scene within hours of the initial flooding early Thursday morning, which impacted multiple businesses and homes.
First responders, including those from the Amarillo Police Department and the Amarilllo Fire Department, have continued to put up barricades for roads in the Paramount area that are flooded. A full list of those closures is on MyHighPlains.com.
“The one thing that we want to echo, and we know that you’ll be repeatedly told this, is to please avoid these areas,” Mays said. “Don’t drive around the barriers.”
Joseph Loftus, a captain with the Amarillo Police Department, said during the conference, and during Thursday afternoon’s special meeting of the Amarillo City Council, that there will be consequences for those who drive past the barricades.
“We are enforcing anyone who’s going past barricades,” Loftus said. “It is illegal to pass a barricade. It is a criminal offense. We will write you a citation if you pass a barricade. The barricades are up for a reason. It is for your safety and we don’t want anyone else to get hurt.”
Mays said that if drivers cannot see the road, they are asked to not go into the area. In response to questions about when residents will be able to return, Mays said that both the Amarillo Fire Department and the Amarillo Police Department will help coordinate the efforts.
Donny Hooper, the director of public works for the city of Amarillo, said that the city is working with the Amarillo district of the Texas Department of Transportation to establish two above-ground pumps at Lawrence Lake to expedite the pumping process.
Hooper said that TxDOT started the project Thursday morning and expects it to be complete by Friday afternoon, with some of the infrastructure being on the way from Oklahoma City.
“We should have a pumping operation, additional to the pumping operation that we already have in Lawrence Lake, in place by tomorrow at some point in time,” Hooper said. “We’re thinking late tomorrow afternoon before we can get all the infrastructure built, which is really a pretty amazing feat to put all that together in less than 24 hours.”
The establishment of those pumps could impact traffic, with the pipelines laying above ground on the road, Hooper said. Hooper stressed that the addition of the two pumps could also impact interstate travel, as well as the off-ramps.
Hooper also gave an update on the status of the playa lakes, stating that all the playa lakes are currently full, except for Martin Road Lake. Hooper said that Martin Road Lake is at around 87% full.
Officials with the city of Amarillo continue to pump all the playa lakes, Hooper said, except for the Bennett playa lake, which Hooper stressed cannot be done until the levels at Lawrence Lake have decreased.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
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