Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed a disaster declaration for 23 counties affected by Monday’s severe flooding, including Dallas County, as the region recovers from what is called a “one in a thousand” event that has flooded roads, submerged cars and left at least one dead.
But even though North Texas has been hit in recent years with extremes of heat, cold, rain, fire and tornadoes, the governor refused to mention the words “climate change” while declaring a climate catastrophe in the region – at least the seventh declared. in Texas this year.
“We have a constant conversation about what we categorize as extreme weather,” Abbott said, while acknowledging that “we’re dealing with more extreme weather.” But the governor ignored requests from Spectrum News 1’s Brett Shipp to acknowledge climate change.
“The point is this,” Abbott said. “We are constantly looking at what extreme weather conditions can bring, whether it’s electricity demand, extreme heat, extreme cold, heavy water or even drought.”
The disaster advisory comes as Texas and the rest of the country experiences a greater frequency of so-called “once in 1,000 years” or “once in 100 years” floods and other weather disasters. Similar language was used to describe Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
The declaration, which was also implemented for Tarrant County, allows the state to exercise emergency powers to respond to a disaster.
“Additional counties may be added as the storm system moves through the state,” Abbott said before signing the document at Dallas City Hall.
Sitting next to Abbott, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson was quick to point out the unusual nature of the ongoing weather disasters.
“We faced an unprecedented — supposedly unprecedented — series of disasters in the city,” Johnson said. “Whatever you want to call it, however much time you want to spend on it, we’ve been hit pretty hard and we’ve been hit historically.”
The storm soaked parts of Dallas-Fort Worth almost constantly from late Sunday to early Monday, dropping more than 10 inches of rain in the hardest hit areas. A reading near Fair Park captured 15 inches of rain.
“There was no time to prepare for anything or even respond to it,” Dallas Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz told the governor during the briefing.
South and east Dallas were hardest hit by the flooding, authorities said. North Dallas came out relatively unscathed.
Dallas-Fire Rescue responded to 232 high water incident calls and 84 water rescue calls, authorities told Abbott during a briefing at the city’s emergency operations center. Nineteen of these rescue calls were for boats.
First responders rescued 21 people and 10 dogs. About 1,650 total calls were received by the city’s first responders between 6 p.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Monday, compared to 960 calls in a typical 24-hour period.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie García said 28 police vehicles were damaged in the flooding, in a department that was already struggling with its aging fleet.
No deaths were reported in Dallas; but in Mesquite a dead woman was pulled from her car which was swept away by the flood waters. Four people in Dallas have been treated and released to hospitals, officials said.