Recovery efforts underway

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As the clouds begin to break up overhead and the sun begins to shine down on a battered Sealy, recovery efforts have been ramped up all around the town.

While Sealy has not met the threshold to be declared a disaster zone by FEMA, other organizations such as the Austin County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Department of Transportation and local police and fire have begun to repair the area.

Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes said he has surveyed the county via aircraft and while flooding conditions are still severe, there is no immediate danger to those in the area.

“People seem to be more educated and aware of what’s going on and have been very cooperative,” Brandes said. “All the roads that are flooded are the ones that have that happen every time there’s a flood.”

Brandes pointed to the preparation of emergency crews before the storm hit as a key piece to why the loss of life hasn’t been as bad as it could have been. He especially applauded the efforts of Austin County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Chislett and local fire departments.

“Ray’s been really great about this whole thing,” Brandes said. “Fire departments have been phenomenal, I can’t say enough about them because most of them are volunteers and they helped people get out.”

The Sheriff’s Department will continue to monitor the water levels throughout the county, particularly the areas that have been evacuated. Brandes said those areas are a priority to ensure no one is looting the homes or “tampering [with] anything.”

Road and bridge conditions are also being monitored by the sheriff’s department and TxDOT. Both agencies stressed that even if the flooding recedes, damage from the water could still present a big danger to drivers.

Brandes said rivers in the county appear to have crested meaning they have reached the highest point they will get. The department is waiting on river and water levels to go down to begin cleanup duties.

Brandes also said that those who evacuated should be careful of potential wildlife dangers such as snakes when returning to their homes and should call county resource officials with any inquiries.

Sealy schools are also looking to recover from the storm and begin classes again on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Superintendent Sheryl Moore said the damage to the schools has been minimal.

“We’ve been dealing with water damage and power outages but luckily nothing major,” Moore said.”

Moore said teachers will be able to work from their offices and classrooms starting Aug. 31. Several faculty members have also been helping out students including athletic director and head football coach Shane Mobley who visited several students’ homes.

Moore said it took “a small army” of Sealy ISD personnel to prep and recover during and after the storm. The helpers included school board members Brian Owen and Robert Arnold along with Owen’s family, neighbors around Sealy and several athletic coaches and their families.

“It was cool; I mean here’s my athletic director with the chief of police,” Moore said. “It was an interesting mix of people helping out.”

Moore also pointed to Michael Brune who came in with supplies to assist in the cleaning effort and Sealy ISD Police Chief Shannon Culpepper who spent four nights in her office.

Moore said the efforts to ensure the facilities will be ready for school to start up mostly involves cleaning up carpets with water damage and other similar small repairs.

“This is just inconvenience stuff,” Moore said.

The local Sealy police and fire officials are also working hard around Sealy to help the citizens recover from the storm.

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