For the past several days, Hurricane Harvey (which has since been downgraded to a nonetheless devastating and catastrophic tropical storm) has wrought a path of destruction through the state of Texas, in particular in the greater Houston area. And according to local authorities, things are about to get worse for residents to the south ― the Columbia Lakes levee has been breached by Harvey flooding, according to the Associated Press, and Brazoria County officials are telling residents to "get out now" while they still can.
It's yet another harrowing development for the people of south Texas, and given the scenes that have already been playing out throughout the affected areas, there's no underselling just how seriously this warning should be taken. Columbia Lakes is a resort community about 50 miles south of Houston, very much within the storm's sphere of influence.
To give a sense of the urgency authorities are approaching this with, deputies have reportedly been going door-to-door to to warn residents about the potential for catastrophic flooding amid the levee failure. The county's official Twitter account broadcast the stern warning on Tuesday morning, posting bold black text against a sharp red background: "NOTICE: The levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached!! GET OUT NOW!!"
Columbia Lakes is a golf and resort community in Brazoria County, one which, according to its official website, boasts "2,000 wooded acres in the heart of south Texas." It sits near to the Brazos River, which reportedly surged to historic levels on Monday, prompting concern from officials that its levees might fail under the pressure of the storm.
By the time Tuesday morning rolled around, county officials confirmed those fears, announcing that the Columbia Lakes levee had been breached in the most blunt, alarm-raising fashion possible. In the days leading up to the historic storm and floods, Texas authorities urged people caught in Harvey's projected path to prioritize their personal safety, and leave their homes to find safe refuge.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made that very case, urging residents to get out of areas along Harvey's predicted trajectory, even where there weren't explicitly mandatory evacuation orders in effect: "Even if an evacuation order hasn't been issued by your local official, if you're in an area between Corpus Christi and Houston, you need to strongly consider evacuating," Gov. Abbott said, as detailed by The Washington Post.
Columbia Lakes is about 200 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, which is approximately where Harvey first made landfall late last week.