1st Responders Not a Water Taxi Service, Says Houston Mayor on New Evacuations

HOUSTON, Texas — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said it is not right for residents of a flooded west Houston area to expect first responders to act as “a water taxi service.” Mayor Sylvester Turner ordered a new mandatory evacuation order for the area effective Sunday morning.

The mayor of the nation’s fourth largest city initially issued the order as voluntary but changed it to mandatory Saturday afternoon. He issued the order affecting residents facing long-term flooding conditions as the Addicks and Barker-Cypress reservoirs drain. Many of the homes are expected to remain flooded for weeks.

“The situation of the release of water from the reservoir is not going to change in the next 10 days,” Mayor turner told reporters.

On Friday, when officials announced the voluntary orders for the area, Chief Acevedo said it was not practical for police, firefighters, and first responders to act as “a water taxi service,” the Houston Press reported.

Harris County Flood Control Meteorologist Jeff Linder told reporters, “It’s time to get out. The water is going to stay up for a long period of time.”

Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Pena emphasized the dangers of staying in long-term flooded homes. “There’s dangers of electrocution, there’s danger of structural compromise. It is not a safe place to remain,” Pena explained. “We strongly encourage you to seek alternate places to say, for the next two weeks.”

The evacuation order became mandatory, effictive at 7 a.m. Sunday morning. Houston City Councilman Greg Travis (District G) issued a statement to his constituents. The statement contains the following details about the order:

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  1. Mayor Turner just issued a MANDATORY evacuation order for all homes and apartments that currently have standing water in them AND that are in the earlier voluntary evacuation area (I-10 on the North, Highway 6 on the West, Briar Forest on the South and Gessner on the East)
  2. This Mandatory order goes into effect tomorrow, Sunday, September 3, 2017, at 7:00 A.M.
  3. If you live in this area, and have water in your home or on the first floor of your apartment complex, you must leave by 7:00 A.M. tomorrow.
  4. Mayor Turner has instructed CenterPoint Energy to begin turning off all power to all homes and apartment complexes that have standing water and that are in the mandatory evacuation zone.
  5. If you live between I-10, Highway 6, Briar Forest and Gessner AND you have standing water in your home or on the first floor of your apartment complex, your power will be shut off beginning at 7:00 A.M. tomorrow.

Travis made arrangements for an all-terrain vehicle to be available to assist residents in briefly returning to their homes to get some of their property before leaving. The vehicles are available until 2 p.m. on Sunday. He provided the following information:

  1. The vehicle will be stationed where the flood waters start nearest to the intersection of Kirkwood @ Briar Forest.
  2. The vehicle is limited to accessing water seven feet deep; if your home or neighborhood or the path to either has more than seven feet of water, you will not be allowed to participate.
  3. Only District G residents wishing to access their flooded homes on the south side of Buffalo Bayou near or adjacent to Kirkwood will be allowed to participate; time permitting, this will be extended to homes on the south side of Buffalo Bayou near or adjacent to Dairy Ashford and Wilcrest. There are already five boats on the north side of Buffalo Bayou assisting residents.
  4. You MUST have your ID with you showing you live in the neighborhood or you will NOT be allowed to participate-no exceptions.
  5. You will only be allowed into your home for a few minutes to retrieve medications, some clothes and your important documents.
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Breitbart Texas conducted an exclusive interview with Chief Acevedo during the peak of Hurricane Harvey rescues and evacuations. During the interview, the chief praised his officers who, despite losing their own homes to flooding, remained on the job.

“The collective heart of the Houston Police Department (HPD), the Houston Fire Department, all of our municipal co-workers, (and) just the entire first-responder community in this city is second to none, and I am very proud of that,” the chief said. Despite more than 200 officers having their own homes damaged or destroyed “They’re putting their duty first.” The chief praised not only the commissioned officers who wear the dark blue uniform but the entire support staff and dispatchers.

Follow complete coverage of Hurricane Harvey and Houston Floods on Breitbart Texas.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGab, and Facebook.