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Military Will Help Beaumont Get Fresh Water; Outage Forces Hospital To Shut Down

Aug 31, 2017
Originally published on August 31, 2017 12:56 pm

Thousands of people are without water in Beaumont, Texas, adding to the misery of extreme flooding that has left large swaths of it and neighboring towns underwater. The lack of water is also forcing a large hospital to shut down — including its emergency services.

"Due to the failure of the city's water pump, it is in the best interest of our current patients to transfer to other acute care facilities," Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas said Thursday morning. "Due to the city-wide lack of services, we have no other alternative but to discontinue all services which will include emergency services. This is being done immediately."

The crippling floodwaters were brought to Beaumont by Harvey — which hit the state as a hurricane Friday and has now become a tropical depression as it moves inland. In neighboring Port Arthur, the mayor said Wednesday, "Our whole city is underwater right now."

From Beaumont, NPR's Debbie Elliott reports for our Newscast unit:

"Thousands of people are displaced and living in shelters in Beaumont and Port Arthur, as crews try to rescue others still trapped by floodwater. Overnight, Beaumont lost both of its water sources. FEMA Director Brock Long says the military will help get water to the city's nearly 120,000 residents."

" 'We're working with partners at DOD and state to open points of distribution to service citizens there in that dire situation,' Long said.

"Residents have lined up at the few stores that are open to buy bottled water. City officials say they can't get to repairs until floodwaters recede."

Some stores in Beaumont reportedly said they're waiting on water deliveries from Houston, roughly 100 miles away — but hours earlier, the Texas Department of Transportation said, "All major roadways into Beaumont from Houston are virtually impassable."

Photos from the area show tracked military vehicles on roads and highways, trudging through high waters.

As Harvey moved over Louisiana, the system did not bring the intense devastation it imposed in the past week. When Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards decided to send aid to southeastern Texas on Wednesday, he sent it to Port Arthur and Beaumont.

North of Beaumont, high water that threatened to go over the top of the Angelina-Neches Dam forced the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to open floodgates — and prompted Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette to send a dire warning from the county's emergency management office, telling people to get out.

"Anyone who chooses to not heed this directive cannot expect to be rescued and should write their Social Security numbers in permanent marker on their arm so their bodies can be identified," Blanchette wrote. "The loss of life and property is certain."

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