Friday was another day of preparing and waiting for people living along the Sabine River as water continued to rush downstream from Toledo Bend dam.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter in Mauriceville at the First United Methodist Church, 11929 Highway 12.
In the afternoon, the National Weather Service predicted the river in Orange would reach up to seven feet in Orange. City Emergency Management Director Lee Anne Brown said the rise of the river could flood streets and affect buildings in low-lying areas.
The areas in Orange that will likely be affected are the downtown, Cove, Brownwood off Simmons Drive, Hillbrook Estates off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive near Adams Bayou, and the Cypress Bayou neighborhoods along Little Cypress Bayou.
Brown said predicting when the water will rise is difficult, but currently the predictions have the rise beginning Sunday evening. The river is supposed to crest by Wednesday.
The city began providing sand bags at the Orange Boat Ramp on Simmons Driver, the old Nat. Armory Guard building at 4103 Meeks Drive, and the city service center at 1109 W. Polk Avenue off Tenth Street near Evergreen Cemetery. The sandbags will be available until the supplies are gone.
Bridge City City Manager Jerry Jones said residents there should not be affected by flooding from Cow Bayou.
Residents off West Bluff Road in North Orange County began preparing for record river highs. Some long-time residents decided to move all their belongings and leave the river, neighbors said.
People began going to the County Precinct 1 barn to fill sandbags. The barn was open only during regular business hours. However, the Precinct 3 barn on West Roundbunch Road in Bridge City and the Precinct 4 barn on Claiborne Street in Vidor have sandbag supplies outside the equipment fence available 24 hours a day.
The Sabine River Authority at 1 p.m. Friday lowered the nine gates at Toledo Bend Reservoir to 20 feet open. The nine gates had been wide open at 22 feet for 31 hours sending 208,000 cubic feet of water a second down the river. The decreased release has 190,000 cubic feet per second. The official Niagara Falls park website says the main falls sends down 100,000 cubic feet per second. At 6pm they dropped the gates down to 18 feet.
Even with all the water being released from Toledo Bend reservoir, the lake level Friday was at 173.84 feet and had gone down from 174.36 feet. The lake is considered full at 172 feet.
The water into the reservoir has been flowing from East Texas where three days of rain storms brought double figures of rain into a wide swath of land that drains into the Sabine River Basin.
The National Weather Service now predicts the Sabine River will reach 34 feet at Deweyville, about five feet above the May 1989 flood. The unofficial record is 32.7 feet in 1884. Flood level is 24 feet.
In Orange, the river is measured by sea level. Flood stage is 4 feet above sea level and the record high was 9.86 in September 2008. The flood was caused by Hurricane Ike sending a storm surge northward from the Gulf of Mexico. The Weather Channel is reporting the previous record for the Sabine in Orange was 6.27 feet in 1913. – Margaret Toal, KOGT-