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Perry declares Ellis County a disaster area

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ERIC CORNELISON
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ELLIS COUNTY - Gov. Rick Perry has declared Ellis County a disaster area as a result of flood damage caused by the torrential rains received over the last few weeks.

Ellis County was one of several counties listed by Perry in a declaration of disaster issued Friday, June 29.

Ellis County Judge Chad Adams also issued a declaration of disaster, noting widespread damage and activating the county's emergency management plan.

The declaration was in effect for seven days unless otherwise continued.

The levee-breaking situation with the Trinity River which caused the evacuation of Bristol has been avoided.

'We're very fortunate,' county communication spokeswoman Diana Buckley said.

'The Trinity crested this morning (Saturday) at about 36 feet instead of the predicted or worst case scenario of 38 or 39 feet.'

Buckley went on to say the river may rise again, but officials believed the danger was over.

'They were expecting it to rise again late today (Saturday) to about 36.7 feet, but that's not a levee failure expectation,' Buckley said according to news outlets.

'It is looking good.'

At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, the water level in the Trinity River measured at 36.06 feet at the Rosser gauge, compared to 36.04 feet at 11:30 p.m. Friday and up from 35.92 feet at 7:20 p.m. Friday.

County officials had prepared a shelter in Ennis for people evacuated from near the river, but it went unused due to the levee not breaching.

'When there is enough time to plan, people have another place to go,' Buckley said.

The biggest reason for the disaster declaration in Ellis County was because of damage to the roads, Buckley said.

Several Ellis County road were closed Friday evening including Precinct 1 - Neck Road; Precinct 2 - Oilfield Road, Walker Creek Road, Spence Road, Sandswitch Road and Armstrong Road; Precinct 3 - Cosby, Whiterock, Low Water; and Precinct 4 - Ray White Road.

'Recent storms have devastated the communities in Central and North Texas, sadly taking lives, homes and livelihoods,' Perry was reported saying.

'State resources and volunteer organizations are on site providing assistance, and we will continue to work with local officials in addressing the needs of these devastated communities.'

Residents in Ellis Counties could apply for individual assistance programs intended for losses by individuals and families which are uninsured, as long as the president approves the declaration.

Several assistance programs can attained include financial assistance, temporary housing, tax relief, legal services, crisis counseling and disaster unemployment assistance.

The governor's disaster declaration opens the door to a variety of assistance from state agencies, including the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Office of Rural and Community Affairs.

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