Pets, possessions and people all rescued from Baytown floodwaters

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First it was people. Then pets. The possessions. Sometimes it was all three. Even as the floodwater began to recede in some parts of Harris County, the most inundated parts of Baytown on Wednesday saw a string of rescues.

A family of four was found clinging to trees in what was once a patch of forest by Cedar Bayou – and was now a river washing over the highway.

The foursome had been boating to safety when their vessel capsized, according to police at the scene. But a group of concerned citizens with a boat of their own went out for a daring rescue that drew onlookers to the riverbank. Firefighters and police showed up in time to see everyone to safety on the shore.

Although some cell service was out and a teeming river flowed through the middle the town of 75,000, not everyone was hit hard by the water. Large swathes of downtown went unscathed – which police said was a blessing, as it meant fewer waterlogged businesses tempting unscrupu-lous looters.

But some spots in the northern Baytown area – places like Legends Bay, Whispering Pines and Devinwood – all got hit harder, with flooding up past the first story of houses.

“It’s devastation over there,” said Donna Thurgood, a Pinehurst resident whose home was largely spared.

On Wednesday, nearby neighborhoods sat evacuated waiting for the waters to recede – and for owners to begin retrieving their belongings. One family waded into an inundated home to save pet snakes and geckos.

Around Devinwood, soggy residents hopped in souped up trucks with homemade “snorkels” to keep the air filters from sucking in water as they braved the flooding to retrieve anything that had been moved to safety on the second floor in advance.

“Everybody is sticking together and staying strong,” said Timothy Settle. The 28-year-old and his neighbors banded together to ward off looters by setting up an armed neighborhood watch, IDing anyone trying to drive or wade down the street to retrieve belongings.

Locals organized shifts through their Facebook group, each picking two-hour slots to stand guard. Most incoming residents seemed grateful for the service.

Looking down the flooded street, Settle guessed it would be many days before the hardest-hit parts of town could begin to think about rebuilding.

“We’re still in the destruction phase,” he said. “We still gotta tear down before we rebuild.”

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