CLEBURNE, Texas -- With heavy rainfall and flooding expected for the second weekend in a row, the Texas Army National Guard deployed soldiers and three heavy duty tactical vehicles used in high water rescues to the north central Texas city of Cleburne on Tuesday.
"Because Johnson County has been affected so significantly by the events we’ve had the past three weeks, the National Guard approached us and offered us this resource to assist us in our efforts should we have flooding again," said Jamie Moore, Johnson County emergency management director.
Thanks to slow-moving thunderstorms, meteorologists predict that large portions of the Southern Plains are at risk for flash floods and river flooding through Memorial Day.
Moore said the soldiers from the 236th Engineer Company will coordinate with local rescue agencies on best to utilize the vehicles, which can operate in up to 40 inches of water.
"They will be an excellent resource for getting people out of flooded homes," Moore said. "In last Sunday’s event, a majority of our rescues were those sorts of rescues. Water had inundated people’s homes who needed to get out. The National Guard will be useful for those sort of rescues."
Local emergency personnel performed several high water rescues last weekend when severe storms dumped three inches of rain on the county. The resulting flooding was so extensive that at least one precinct ran out of "high water" signs.
On Wednesday, the National Guard troops explored flooding trouble zones across the county. Moore said residents that have recently experienced flooding are at a higher risk of flooding this weekend.
"We sent them out to look at those areas during daylight so they can have a better idea of what challenges they might be up against," Moore said.
"They explored those areas because it’s an important safety aspect for what they do because they are not from here — they are from all over Texas. Also, with the size of the vehicles they could see how to drive our roadways as well as figure out where the low water crossings are and things of that nature."
Moore said the troops are set to stay in Johnson County at least until Monday.
"We know that the heaviest rain that will come through for us is probably going to be Saturday and Sunday so we for sure are going to request that they stay through then," Moore said. "But, I believe they have deployment orders through the end of the month. They’ve been committed to Johnson County as our resource."
With still more than a week left in the month, May rainfall totals are approaching historic levels across the Lone Star State as well as Oklahoma.