The residents of the City of Simonton have had to deal with loss of unimaginable proportions this past week. The rising waters of the Brazos River wreaked havoc on the town on 814 people. Whole neighborhoods were affected by the force of the water that quickly claimed the entire contents of many homes leaving residents stunned and overwhelmed with the cleanup that must be done. Approximately 148 square miles of the county were affected by the flood waters. Mandatory evacuations kept residents safe, but few could have imagined what they would come back to once the roads were reopened on Monday.
The Brazos River Flood Multi-Agency Recovery Center set up shop at BF Terry High School in Rosenberg and helped provide immediate assistance to residents in need and signed up those not affected by the flood wanting to volunteer their services. The SPCA went from house to house attempting to feed animals left behind by owners thinking they would be able to make a second trip to their homes.
This week a tour of the area showed street after street piled high with televisions, toys, furniture and appliances as well as walls, doors and insulation that had to be removed to begin the disinfecting process. A lonely set of golf clubs was mixed in with a pile of sheetrock waiting to be picked up. A few remediation companies were working to clear contents of the homes, but for the most part the homeowners themselves were seen trying to tackle the job with the help of family and friends. Contractors will be picking up debris starting Monday, June 13th through June 24th., but in the meantime, residents are awaiting insurance adjusters to come and evaluate the belongings on the curb while trying to keep outsiders from scavenging through the rubble.
One of the hidden dangers of the flood is the sewage that contaminated the water. The bacteria begin to grow and become a serious health issue. Dust masks and rubber gloves are needed by those cleaning their homes. These items are in short supply and many times homeowners have to make the trip to a neighboring town to purchase them so that they can continue the unrelenting chore of trying to get back to normal. Most residents’ water comes from wells that must now be tested and shocked to ensure that they are safe to use.
Local merchant Debra Sabrsula, owner of Red Potato Market, set up a one stop shop for those affected by the flooding. As donations poured in to the little community, instead of having to drive to Katy or Houston to pick up cleaning supplies, they could go to the 15,000 sq foot market and take what they needed. Shoes, clothing, cleaning and packing supplies as well as pet food and supplies were available to the residents. Although the clothing has now been packed up and sent to other shelters, there will be a limited amount of supplies available through June 15th. Items needed at this time include: Paper towels, heavy duty trash bags, dust masks and rubber gloves, tarps, duct tape, packing supplies, plastic storage bins, packing paper, packing tape, Box Fans, cleaning supplies such as bleach, Dawn Dishwashing Detergent, Pledge Furniture Oil, glass cleaner, shop towels and personal care items Neosporin, Band aids, Advil, and Tylenol.
Meals were provided by the Simonton Community Church and the Red Cross. Red Cross trucks could be seen driving through the affected area handing out supplies and delivering meals so residents would not have to stop their efforts.
Denise Einkauf, owner of Waggin’ Tails Pet Ranch in Fulshear used her business as a drop off point for badly needed pet supplies that included crates, towels and blankets, food and medications. She told The Katy News that she and her crew packed a 14 foot trailer from top to bottom and delivered donations to Red Potato Market as well as the Fort Bend Animal Shelter, not once but four times. Her personal vehicle was also filled many times with medical supplies to help clean up the wounded animals found during and after the flood. With the combination of the generosity of Waggin’ Tails owners and staff and some incredibly generous donors, boarding for the evacuees was subsidized giving them one less thing to worry about.
Richard Culp, manager PetSmart Richmond on Grand Parkway, generously donated over a palette of dog and cat food. Sugar Land Vet Specialists and Fry Road Animal Clinic donated a vehicle full of crates for the many animals.
Barbara Vass, Director of Fort Bend County Animal Services was completely overwhelmed with the generosity of the community. She was able to disburse the donations to area shelters that were quickly running low on food and supplies to manage the influx of animals either lost or abandoned. The Fort Bend Animal Shelter took in 20-25 animals and was expecting more as the water continues to rise in other parts of the county. Thirty families signed up to help foster some of the displaced animals helping to relieve the already full shelter. At last count, there were over 120 dogs and cats available for adoption at the facility. Monetary donations made to the shelter will go to set up a fund to pay for heartworm testing, spaying and neutering and adoption fees for these animals. Donations are still being accepted and checks can be made out to Fort Bend County Animal Services. Medications are always needed at the shelter. There is always a need for medications such as Heartgard, Frontline, Capstar Flea and Tick generic topical flea and tick meds are fine, generic dewormer, Neosporin, Hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls and cotton swabs.
Fort Bend County Animal Services holds volunteer orientations monthly. Positions from dog walkers to office help are available. The next orientation is Saturday, June 18th at 11 a.m. at the shelter located at 1210 Blume Rd, Rosenberg, TX 77471. Call 281-342-1512 for more information.
Due to the quick systems put in place by the Fort Bend Office of Emergency Management there was no loss of life according to Precinct 3 Constable Rob Cook. Fort Bend Constables continue to drive through the area to provide security and comfort to those left to continue the clean up.
Photos and story by Debi Beauregard