HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — An Army Corps of Engineers spokesman says crews have started releasing water from two flood-control reservoirs in the Houston area ahead of schedule.
Spokesman Jay Townsend says the water releases began early Monday at the Addicks and Barker reservoirs after water levels increased dramatically over the past few hours.
Harris County officials said Sunday that the water releases were initially scheduled for 2 a.m. Monday at Addicks, and a day later at Barker. Officials had warned residents they should pack their cars Sunday night and wait for daylight Monday to leave.
Townsend says the timetable was moved up to prevent more homes from being affected by flooding from the reservoirs. He says water levels were rising at a rate of more than six inches per hour in both reservoirs early Monday.
Corps officials are urging area residents to remain vigilant.
Officials in Fort Bend County, in Houston's southwestern suburbs, have issued widespread mandatory evacuation orders along the Brazos River levee districts.
County officials were preparing for the river to reach major flood stages late Sunday. County Judge Robert Herbert, the county's top elected official, said at a news conference that the National Weather Service predicted that Brazos waters could rise to 59 feet, three feet above 2016 records and what Herbert called an "800-year flood level."
Herbert says that amount of water would top the levees and carries a threat of levee failure.
Areas along the Brazos stretching as far north as parts of Sugar Land had been under voluntary evacuation orders over the weekend, but many of those neighborhoods have now changed to mandatory evacuations.