Relieved southeast Texas residents watched flood waters from the rain-swollen Colorado River begin to recede Saturday, but the Trinity and Brazos rivers kept rising in other parts of the state where the worst is yet to come.
The Colorado, which crested at 46 feet Friday--seven feet above flood stage--had declined more than a foot by Saturday morning. Earlier predictions were that it would crest at 48 feet.
"The bad part is over. Almost everybody is relieved. We thought it was going to be worse," said Jo Knezek, director of community development for Wharton, Tex., a city about 65 miles southwest of Houston.
About two dozen homes were flooded in Wharton's low-lying west side. Residents and city officials were trying to assess the water damage. Those who had bundled up their belongings and fled as the river rose were moving back into their homes.
More than 100 miles to the east in Liberty County, residents in some low-lying areas braced for flooding from the rising Trinity River. Water already had seeped into 10 homes, and the river is expected to climb through much of next week as more water is released from the Lake Livingston Dam.
About 3,500 residents living in rural areas along the river have been urged to evacuate, although many have so far chosen to stay at home, said Jim Mitchum, Liberty County emergency management coordinator.
In Ft. Bend County, just west of Houston, authorities reported the Brazos River measured slightly more than 48 feet--its flood stage level--and was expected to crest at 50 feet tonight or early Monday morning.
About 10 homes already were flooded, said Mel Speed, Ft. Bend County emergency management coordinator. Officials issued a voluntary evacuation recommendation Saturday for an estimated 80,000 residents.