FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – The Brazos River appears to have crested in Richmond, but could begin rising again if heavy rain falls over the next two days.
Emergency managers said Thursday that the river appears to be receding in Simonton, and has been holding steady at 58.4 feet at the Richmond gauge for several hours.
Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert said at least 1,200 people have been forced from their homes by high water, 558 of them rescued by emergency workers since May 29.
More than 1,400 homes have been affected in some way by flooding, but that number is expected to rise dramatically.
Friday, Herbert requested the local and state declaration of emergency be extended by two weeks.
Shelters are open in Richmond and Brookshire, and the Red Cross plans to open a third.
Efforts are underway as well to rescue abandoned or stranded pets or livestock. A veterinary team from Texas A&M University was in Simonton, where at least three horses reportedly died, on Thursday.
Near Richmond, sheriff's deputies worked with rancher Tom Dompier to move about 200 head of cattle from flooded pastures.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before, so it was a learning experience,” Dompier said
Fort Bend deputies stopped traffic on U.S. 90 for about an hour while cowboys on horseback and air boats
herded the cattle across the highway and a train track to higher ground.
“He needed to get these cattle out of water. There's a lot of saturated ground out here so moving them to higher ground was a must,” Fort Bend Sheriff Troy Nehls said.
Hebert, the county judge, cut short a cruise to return home Thursday. He left Sunday, the same day mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Simonton and Rosenberg.
Hebert insisted Thursday his absence didn't hamper the county's emergency response.
“If I thought I thought my being here would have kept the river a foot lower, an inch lower, I would have stayed.
The key is to have trained professionals in place and willing volunteers to react,” Hebert said. “I came back for one reason and one reason only. I wasn't having any fun. I was spending all my time on my iPad and iPhone talking to people."