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Residents on edge as officials open spillway gates amid rising river water levels: 'You shouldn't have to live in constant fear that your house is going to be flooded'

Residents are more than worried.

Residents are more than worried.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Flood worries have become a part of life in areas around the globe, and questionable water-management possibilities only add to some residents' concerns.

One of these spots is about 45 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico along the Sabine River, which makes up much of the Texas-Louisiana border. Homeowners in Deweyville have to keep an eye on the water as well as an upstream spillway, the American Press reported in April.

The town has flooded numerous times. The last major event was in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey, but people there told The New York Times they survived the storm. Officials with the Sabine River Authority caused the deluge.

The year prior, they had taken similar steps, releasing 200,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Toledo Bend Reservoir — or 22 feet in 24 hours — Larry Gibson Sr. told the Press, which led to record floods.

So, Gibson and others were more than worried last month when the river rose a couple of feet — and then the floodgates crept up. A logjam threatened the Deweyville Bridge, built in 1938 and one of the nation's oldest swing bridges.

"There's no way to be sure what's going to happen, and it keeps everybody on edge," Gibson said. "The tributaries are already full."

The Press reported that since the 2016 flood, the SRA has kept the lake at 172 feet, four feet higher than before. Gibson said the authority at that time was focused on maintaining high water levels for bass fishing tournaments rather than releasing water prior to the extreme precipitation that caused the flood.

"I know you can't control what nature does, but you can use common sense to let water out of the dam when you know you're going to get heavy rains," he said.

"... You shouldn't have to live in constant fear that your house is going to be flooded. Our family cemetery was underwater early yesterday."

Homes were spared this time, but residents had to hold their breath again after more heavy rainfall weeks later caused another flood.

It's likely to keep happening, as rapidly rising global temperatures are making extreme weather events such as floods and droughts more frequent and severe. Because we can't immediately remove the human-produced polluting gases that are superheating the planet from the atmosphere, people in places such as Deweyville will have to take measures to limit the impact of resulting weather.

Newton County commissioner Leonard Powell said he has been working to improve drainage in Deweyville and that the repeated floods led to changes in how roads are repaired, 12News reported.

"The limestone base material, the rain events, the flash flooding takes that material away much quicker than it does the green rock that we're now using," he said. "I don't think we will have to start from scratch, and we'll see less damage."

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