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Posts published in “Day: September 26, 2019


Huffman and Crosby were inundated in flooding. Pictured above is a rescue by boat in Huffman. Houston sent 3 high water vehicles to Crosby to help the fire department. Harris County authorities had to tow over 1600 autos to clear major highways.

20” of Rain in 24 hours; 1500 High Water Rescues

By Gilbert Hoffman

HARRIS COUNTY – Tropical Storm IMELDA never reached hurricane status, but it ended up doing more flooding than Hurricane Harvey two years ago, according to authorities.

The storm came ashore near Freeport on Tuesday evening, and by Thursday had dropped massive amounts of water on Harris County and counties to the north and east of Houston, all the way to Beaumont.

The storm took five lives, three in Beaumont and two in Harris County. Authorities said a man drove into high water on Will Clayton Parkway in Humble, and another body of Rene Salas, 52, was found in a ditch near W. Mt. Houston.

Many rescue operations were required in the Deer Run neighborhood in Crosby last week as the accumulation of water began to enter houses and threaten residents. Neighbors and personnel from Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept. and HCESD#5 were involved in the efforts.

EPA holds update session in Highlands

Jackie Young and Sean Matula were among about 20 persons that spoke.

Representatives of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were in Highlands last Tuesday evening, to tell a large crowd what progress has been made on removing the Waste Pits from the Superfund site in the San Jacinto River.

A lengthy presentation by EPA Project Manager Gary Baumgarten was very technical in nature, covering testing, strategies for planning the removal of the toxins, and schedules for the work.

Baumgarten also covered the subject on everyone’s mind, the run-away barges in the rain swollen river, and the damage to the I-10 bridge. He covered the details of the incident, the damage to the site, and the fact that no pollution from the site or the barges has been detected. One barge was on top of the pits, though, and after it was removed Sunday more testing for damage must take place, he said.

With wry humor, he quipped that he had never worked on a site that had so many things happen to it, including floods, an 18 wheel crash, and barge strikes.

A large crowd of concerned residents filled the hall of the Highlands Community Center.


This aerial drone photo, furnished by the EPA, shows one of the two barges that struck the I-10 bridge supports, shearing them from the beams above, and totally destroying the structural integrity. The damage can be seen on the columns supporting the westbound lanes of the highway, but TxDOT will send divers and engineers to examine supports of both east and west arteries before deciding whether to reopen them for traffic.

Tropical Storm Imelda brought widespread flooding to many areas to the north and east in Harris County, and bayous and rivers rose rapidly.

In the San Jacinto River, nine barges loaded with petroleum products broke loose from their moorings near the Waste Pits Thursday morning about midnight, and traveled downstream with two of the barges striking support columns of the I-10 bridge over the river.

The extensive structural damage caused TxDOT to close the bridge to all vehicular traffic in both directions, and announced that they would remain closed until the waters receded and the supports could be examined.

With very few alternative east/west routes, a tremendous traffic jam occurred on the east side of the county, affecting thoroughfares and local roads.

Crosby original found murdered

Ralph Leroy Machala

Ralph “Lee” Leroy Machala, the proprietor of Pooky’s Bar, was found a victim of a brutal murder in Chambers County on Sept. 21. Apparently he had been shot to death.

Locals say he was last seen at Pooky’s on Tuesday, Sept. 17 and reportedly his Jeep was seen in his neighborhood on Sept. 18. That Jeep is now reportedly missing.

Machala had recently self reported having diversified into concrete pouring, purchasing a portion of a bar near the Mexican border, and buying RVs in Chambers County and flipping them to individuals in Crystal Beach.

The 1979 Crosby High School graduate was an avid benefactor of the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital and several times paid for funeral expenses of local friends that had hit hard times.