Flood-Weary Texans Watch Rivers Rise : Weather: First day of year is spent rescuing more belongings from hundreds of swamped homes near Houston. Crests awaited by shelter residents.

From Associated Press

Flood-weary residents were forced to spend the first day of 1992 ferrying more belongings from their swamped homes and waiting for the Trinity River to stop rising.

The Trinity looked more like a sprawling lake Wednesday in the Liberty area east of Houston, where water was reported in at least 100 homes. And along the Brazos River southwest of Houston, about 200 homes were reported inundated Wednesday afternoon.

"This is not fun. I'm ready to go home. It's been rough," said Theresa Younger, who has been living at a Red Cross shelter with her husband and three children since Sunday. "The water hasn't stopped; it's still rising."

Younger and other shelter residents rang in the new year with little fanfare. They slept on cots lining the shelter and later watched parades and football on a small television.

"At least we have somewhere to spend (the holiday) instead of in water," said a philosophical Ricky Fields, 12, who has been staying at the shelter with his family for two days.

Flooding along the Trinity in Liberty County was expected to continue as officials released massive amounts of water from Lake Livingston Dam, about 50 miles north of Liberty. The river stood at 29.37 feet Wednesday, five feet above flood stage; it was expected to crest sometime today at about 30 feet.

Trinity River Authority officials said the release at the dam remained steady at 85,800 cubic feet per second, a rate that was expected to continue for the next five days. A normal release is only about 15,000 cubic feet per second.

In Ft. Bend County southwest of Houston, the Brazos River was holding steady at 49.65 feet, more than a foot above flood stage. The river was expected to peak in Richmond at 50 feet, but officials could not predict when that might happen.

About 200 homes have been flooded along the Brazos, county emergency coordinator Mel Speed said Wednesday afternoon.

The floodwaters, caused by heavy rains that began before Christmas in north Texas, probably have caused the worst flooding in terms of water volume in state history, the National Weather Service said.

Heavy rains and subsequent flooding have been blamed for at least 15 deaths across Texas, but none in the past week. The deluge has damaged homes, swamped farmlands and drowned livestock, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Younger said her family's home in the Trinity River Plaza subdivision has about 1 1/2 inches of water in it. The home, which the Younger family moved into last August, stands 4 1/2 feet off the ground.

"We thought we built it high enough, but evidently not," she said.

The Youngers were among about 50 flood victims who spent New Year's Eve at the shelter, a vacant hardware store in Liberty.

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