Tropical Depression Bill causes flooding, power outages in Wharton County

WHARTON COUNTY, Texas – Tropical Depression Bill is causing problems for Wharton County, according to the Precinct 2 Wharton County Constable's Office.

All lanes of Highway 59 at the Wharton County/Jackson County line are closed in both directions due to high water. 

Southbound traffic is being diverted to 71 N to Hwy 90.

The northbound traffic is being handled by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

The flooding that shut down Highway 59 also caused concerns in the city of Wharton Wednesday.

An apartment community of about 70 people was evacuated overnight because of the rising water. The University Place Apartments in the 300 block of University lost power before midnight and a resident smelled electric lines smoldering.

Firefighters ordered an evacuation after tracing the smell to the elevator panel room.

"Who knows what would have happened. It could have caught fire and we would have had a whole lot bigger issue than what we had last night," said apartment manager Martin Gutierrez.

Many residents are elderly and use wheelchairs or walkers. Wharton firefighters and the building manager moved them to the civic center across the street.

"I got up and came out here and they told us we had to evacuate," said resident Addie Hanks.

She and fellow resident Corey Lopez didn't get much sleep.

"Everybody was polite, but I just wanted to sleep," he said.

All the residents were back in their homes Wednesday evening but the building elevator still was not working. Some residents had to be carried back to their units by firefighters. 

What Bill left behind turned parts of El Campo into a water park. Homes became islands, surrounded by floodwaters.

"Three more inches and it would have been in the house," said resident Frank Garcia.

The nearby Tres Palacios Creek came out of its banks overnight after the storm dumped nearly a foot of rain in El Campo.

"It won't take much rain at all to get us back in a flooding situation," said El Campo Police Chief Terry Stanphill.

The city posted signs to keep drivers out of flooded streets, but the road blocks were sometimes ignored.

"Even though the water wasn't that high when they would drive thru the high water it would push it into peoples homes and businesses causing serious problems," Stanphill said.

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