CORRECTION: This story was updated to reflect the correct name of the Sheriff.
Update (8:53 p.m.)
Officials with the city of Amarillo released a statement in regard to the “Declaration of Local Disaster Related to Severe Weather and Prolonged Flooding”.
“The purpose of the declaration is to protect our community. While the declaration does allow for penalties, we have never enforced them – not even during COVID.”Jared Miller, City Manager
Update (7:10 p.m.)
Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley said all city and county personnel are working closely together to ensure public safety in various capacities.
“All of the pumps are running, that can be every moment that we can have them running to disperse the water and put it in the places that can accept it,” said Stanley. “Every entity we’re working closely with Randall County, Potter County, our sheriffs, and police officers are working just for roadway safety and taking care of the public.”
Stanley added that they are also working with homeowners and citizens experiencing flooding to help in any way they can.
Residents in Potter and Randall County are encouraged to stay off the roads and avoid high-risk flood areas.
“People in the city and in the county that come across any flooded areas with swift moving water need to avoid that area,” said Randall County Sherrif Cpt. Jared Wirt. “Don’t drive through it, don’t walk through it. Take an alternate route.”
Wirt continued, “If you get into swift-moving water, it could quickly take you off the road and can be a dangerous situation, then you put first responders in jeopardy too.
During this time first responders are experiencing a high call volume from flooding in addition to the standard calls. Responding agencies want the public to know there may be a delay in response time from road closures as well.
“We don’t want anybody to get hurt, if you get stuck call us,” said Sgt. Carla Burr, Amarillo Police Department. “We’ll come it may be a delay because other people are getting stuck and there are also all the other calls for service.”
Burr continued, ” That’s another reason why we’re asking people to not go out if they don’t have to. We want to be able to get to the people that need us. We also want to be able to answer our regular calls for service. When that is doubled it’s going to tax the resources that we have out there.”
In addition to road safety, the Amarillo Fire Department is encouraging citizens to be mindful of electrical hazards.
“We’ve seen a spike in electrical hazards,” said Amarillo Fire Department, Cpt. Jeremy Hill. “We’ve got a lot more water right now more than what we’re used to seeing. Yesterday we had two fires and it looked like they were potentially caused by electrical hazards.”
“Be mindful of electrical hazards,” said Hill. Right now, we have water and power lines, especially when the storms are heavy and we’ve got thunderstorms that come in. If they’re heavy winds, power lines go down, just be mindful of that.”
Mayor Stanley said that the city won’t implement a curfew as they believe the citizens of Amarillo are responsible.
“We love that all of our citizens here in Amarillo are very responsible and show a lot of personal responsibility,” said Stanley. “From a government action, we’re relying on our citizens to make good decisions. So, we don’t have any plans and trying to implement any additional laws or requirements on the citizenry right now.
Update (5:50 p.m.)
Officials with the city of Amarillo provided MyHighPlains.com with a copy of the “Declaration of Local Disaster Related to Severe Weather and Prolonged Flooding” that the city signed on Thursday.
According to the declaration, officials said the city has experienced severe weather that created “widespread and severe property damage.” Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code, it gives the mayor the “power to declare a local disaster within the city ‘if the threat of disaster is imminent…”
The declaration is expected to expire seven days after its issuance, which was June 1. The declaration stressed however that it will not continue for more than seven days without being authorized by the Amarillo City Council.
At the end of the declaration, it states that a violation of the declaration is a Class C misdemeanor. However, there was no clarity in the document on how an individual can violate the declaration.
Officials with the city of Amarillo said that a disaster declaration is a “required part of the process for alerting and activating additional resources” if needed. It also gives the city the chance to open the possibility of recouping funds from the state. Officials also stressed it allows the city to move quickly if it needs to have restrictions.
Update (5:03 p.m.)
Officials with the city of Amarillo, including Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley, hosted a news conference Friday afternoon regarding the ongoing flooding and rainfall in Potter and Randall counties.
Stanley said that the city of Amarillo issued a disaster declaration with the other entities in the area, including Potter County, Randall County, and the city of Canyon, on Thursday. Stanley stressed that the city is using everything it has, and collaborating with local entities for road safety as the severe weather continues.
In regards to water pumps, Stanley said that the pumps are only able to go to McDonald Lake. But city officials are developing plans to have the runoff from Playa Lake Seven go to Medi Park permanently.
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with the city of Amarillo provided safety tips to residents as Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle continues to see “historic rainfall” which has caused “widespread flooding, including among the city of Amarillo’s playa lakes.”
“The city is working extensively with Randall County and all related public safety entities to assist all of our residents as we respond to this historic weather event and work to keep our residents safe,” Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley said in a news release from the city of Amarillo. “Flooding in city playa lakes represents a significant public safety concern for the community for various reasons. It is highly recommended that residents avoid all activities on Playa lakes and avoid all contact with floodwater at any location.”
Officials with the city of Amarillo also said in the release that heavy rains and flooding can cause septic systems to become inoperable. Officials said that when soil is saturated, hazardous materials from the systems could cause an overflow of untreated wastewater into the community, including playa lakes. A number of wastewater incidents were reported on Thursday, according to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com.
“Residents are advised to avoid all contact with floodwater due to possible contamination from flooded septic systems,” the release said. “Floodwater can also contaminate well water with livestock waste, human waste, chemicals and other contaminates that can lead to illness when used for drinking, bathing and other hygiene activities.”
Officials said that the city’s municipal water system continues to operate as normal and continues to be safe for use. However, the use of bottled water is recommended for residents with flooded septic systems as well as for those with non-city water sources.
Officials said the city’s Environmental Health Department will have water sample bottles available for sample testing. For more information, individuals are asked to call 806-378-9472.
The city of Amarillo also provided flood response information for residents with a septic system of water well. That information includes:
- Water well: Avoid the well pump while flooded to avoid electrical shock. Do not use the water until you have verified the water is not contaminated. Conduct a water sample test. If water is contaminated, disinfect the water well before use. If you suspect damage to your water well, contact a licensed professional.
- Septic system (before flooding): Do not pump the septic tank- ensure your septic tank is at least half full to prevent it from collapsing or floating. Seal all possible points of excess flow to the system. Ensure all lids, cleanouts or inspection ports are sealed completely to keep excess water out of the of tank.
- If your septic system requires electricity, turn off the pump at the circuit box before the area floods. Waterproof all electrical connections to avoid electrical shock or damage to wiring, pumps and the electrical system.
- During rainfall: Homeowners are advised to eliminate all non-essential water use and flush toilets as little as possible. If the drain field becomes covered with water, do not use the system at all and avoid contact with any standing water due to the potential for contamination.
- Following rainfall: Do not have the septic tank pumped. Pumping it out could cause the tank to float out of the ground and damage the system. Avoid using the system if at all possible and allow time for the water to recede and the soil around the drain field to dry. Reduce all nonessential water use. For example, dishwashing, washing clothes and showering. Flush toilets as little as possible.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
Download the KAMR Local 4 News app on the App Store or Google Play for updates on the go.
Sign up for MyHighPlains.com email updates to see top stories, every day.
Check with MyHighPlains.com to see the latest updates for local news, weather, and events.