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Army vet shown walking after claiming he couldn’t owes government $434K

Here's Mack in a wheelchair, being visited by Herschel Walker
at a Wounded Warrior event last year...

A retired Army master sergeant captured on camera mowing his lawn after telling doctors he could no longer walk was sentenced to 27 months in prison Thursday and must pay back the federal government more than $434,000.

Mack Cole Jr., 54, must surrender to federal authorities by Dec. 6.

He was convicted this summer of federal health care fraud and making false statements about a health care benefit program.

Cole told VA doctors that a National Guard training accident in 2004 left him without “any ability to walk.”

However, undercover video evidence captured by federal investigators showed Cole mowing the front yard of his Cibolo home, walking up and down the driveway, and bending over to toss away debris.

Cole’s attorney told the court Thursday his client takes 25 different medications for the lower back injury and has painkilling devices permanently installed in his body.

The attorney argued that not granting Cole probation would cause a “nightmare” for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Prosecutors argued that Cole repeatedly lied about the extent of his injuries and never presented himself as someone who could walk up and down his driveway.

“There’s a finite amount of money to treat injured veterans. When someone unjustifiably and unjustly reaches into that pot and scrapes out $450,000, it’s a diminished pot,” said Assistant United States Attorney Bud Paulissen.

MORE FROM THE DEFENDERS: Sex assault case against former BCSO deputy in limbo after alleged victim found murdered

Two other disabled veterans in wheelchairs attended sentencing in support of the government and its case against Cole, after seeing a Defenders story on Cole in late July, Paulissen told the court.

“When I saw him bend down to pick up, move trash away, so he could mow his lawn, I can’t even scratch my own nose or blow my own nose,” said retired Air Force Sergeant Lori Henson as she left court.

Cole, who at times was animated as he sat in a motorized wheelchair, told Chief United States District Court Judge Orlando Garcia the case against him was inflated.

“I didn’t ask to be in this chair,” he said. “I didn’t want this to be my life!”

“(You) should have walked in here and apologized,” said Garcia, before sentencing Cole.

While leaving court, Cole called the sentence a “miscarriage of justice.”

Cole’s wife told him to shut up as they made their way to the parking lot.

Cole had faced up to 50 years in prison.

VA investigators opened 111 health care cases during the first six months of this fiscal year and were able to obtain more than $125 million in court-ordered fines and restitution, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General report.

 

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How Galveston is offering a free beach weekend

Galveston was one of the spots hit hard by Harvey.

In an effort to support relief efforts, the Galveston tourism community will host a free beach weekend Sept. 30 through Oct. 1.

Galveston Cares weekend will include free admission to all beach parks, free parking along the seawall, free trolley fairs throughout the island, a free family challenge event at Stewart Beach and a fireworks show in honor of first responders and discounted rates at participating attractions.

There will also be special promotions to benefit relief organizations.

The Galveston Island Wild Texas Shrimp Festival will donate $2 of every Gumbo Stroll ticket to Harvey relief efforts and participating hotel partners will offer special promotions.

The Shrimp Festival will take place on Sept. 30.

Moody Mansions museum and The Bryan Museum will be offering a buy-one-get-one-free special on admission tickets. The Grand 1894 Opera House will host a free “open mic” event from 12 -4 p.m. Saturday.

Galvez Bar and Grill is donating $5 for every prime rib dinner sold Thursday through Sunday through the end of October. Burger King is responding by offering ten of their chicken nuggets for $1.49 for a limited time.

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Lyft ride leads to hate crime charge for Houston man

The Harris County District Attorney’s office said an attack that happened during a Lyft ride in Houston over the summer was a hate crime.

Matthew W. Dunn, 39, of Houston, is charged with assault after what allegedly unfolded during a Lyft ride on July 21.

Dunn is accused of attacking a Lyft driver because of his Middle Eastern heritage. Prosecutors said that makes it a hate crime.

According to a news release from the district attorney’s office, Dunn is accused of berating the driver over his background and religion. He is also accused of physically attacking the driver. Dunn allegedly grabbed the driver by the hair, punching him and choking him.

Dunn has not been arrested. Crime Stoppers of Houston is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information on his whereabouts. If you would like to snitch this loser out, you are asked to call Call 713-222-TIPS.

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New leak discovered on Battleship Texas

More trouble has been reported for a Texas landmark: the Battleship Texas has a new leak.

The news comes three months after the last issue with the vintage vessel.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which oversees the Battleship Texas, said the leak has developed about eight feet from the centerline of the ship.

The battleship staff and contractor are working around the clock to work on solutions. Divers are being sent down to pinpoint the exact source of the leak.

Despite the leak, the ship remains open to the public for tours.

Governor Abbott suggested that the maintenance crew try using “Flexy Seal” – a product which is used to make boats out of screen doors. They reportedly tried it, but it did not work.

 

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Friendswood man accused of raking in nearly $2 million in decadelong pay-phone scheme

To some, pay phones are a relic of the past; a push button reminder of a bygone era.

To federal prosecutors in Houston, hundreds of pay phones were used to manipulate a system involving toll-free numbers.

Court records show a Friendswood man, David Grudzinski, owned a company with 450 pay phones in Houston, Friendswood, League City, Tomball, Dayton, Lake Jackson and Freeport.

The federal government accuses Grudzinski of fraudulently making money off something called dial around compensation, a program regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.

According to a final rule published in the Federal Register in 2004, the FCC approved a fee of 49 cents to be paid to the owners of pay phones for every completed toll-free call made from their phones.

Court records read Grudzinski is accused of using a “polling” computer “to program his pay phones to robotically place repeated telephone calls to toll-free phone numbers, for the purpose of fraudulently acquiring the dial around compensation fee for each phone call.”

Court documents state this went on from 2005 through July 2015 and Grudzinski is accused of raking in $1,848,754.

Prosecutors wrote many of the toll-free calls were made to federal and state agencies like the IRS or Texas’ Lonestar help desk.

Court records show Grudzinski pleaded not guilty to the charges, waived his right to proceed under an indictment and is scheduled to go on trial in October.

We tried to speak with Grudzinski at his home, but he did not answer.A recording said “please deposit three dollars for the first minute.”

His attorney, Dan Cogdell, said the case would be resolved in court and he would have no further comment.

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Mayor Sylvester Turner has strong words for Red Cross after problems surface

Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, is now weighing in on controversy over the Red Cross. This comes after many people have questioned where the millions of dollars in resources given to the Red Cross are going.

“If you promise people something, you got to make it happen because – otherwise — don’t promise at all,” Turner said.

Many Harvey survivors claimed they are not getting the assistance promised by the organization, specifically $400 promised to families who survived the flood.

The Red Cross said its system for the program went down Monday and representatives did not know when it would be up.

Porter resident Wanda Short said she lost everything in the flood.

“I slept in my car for three days and I finally got a room, but I’m just devastated,” Short said. “I’m disabled, but I still get around. I still take care of my house and my yard … but it’s all gone.”

She and her daughter Kelley Coats depended on the Red Cross.

“I left my name, my number, my address. I left her address, not one single word back,” Coats said. “My mom flagged them down in the neighborhood, and they didn’t even get out of the car. They talked to her through the window and said … call the Red Cross number.”

So Short called and waited five hours only to be told she couldn’t be helped.

“They said, ‘Well there’s no more funds available. Try back another time,'” Short said.

More than $300 million has been donated to the Red Cross. The mayor said he understands helping people on this scale is difficult, but he said the organization should give people answers.

“If the Red Cross, if anyone … If I tell you I’m going to do this, and I don’t do it, then I have to be willing to accept the criticism because right now, when people are in a very difficult situation, they’re relying on what you tell them. And, if you say you’re going to do a, b, c or d you better do a, b, c, or d or you better get out front very quickly and tell people why you can’t do a, b, c or d,” Turner said.

Answers are what Short’s family said she deserves.

“She’s already been through enough. The last thing she needs is to be lied to,” Coats said.

The Red Cross sent this statement around 4:30 p.m. Friday:

“On September 21, the Red Cross plans to launch a single website where severely impacted households from 39 Texas counties can apply for $400. We expect the website to have sufficient capacity to handle all registrations; applications will not be accepted through any other website or phone number. Registration will remain open until October 10.”

Houston rapper Ten Cent says of the Red Cross: “They a bunch of liars” and that “they ain’t done sh*t” to help his family, which lost several rugs and a trampoline as a result of the storm.

 

 

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Mysterious sea creature that washed up on Texas beach after Harvey identified

Photos of a mysterious sea creature that washed up on a Texas beach after Hurricane Harvey have gone viral.

The photos were posted on Twitter on Sept. 6 by Preeti Desai, a social media manager at the National Audubon Society.

Desai captioned the photos by saying, “Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this?”

Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this?? Found on a beach in Texas City, TX. #wildlifeid pic.twitter.com/9IUuuL65qh

— Preeti Desai? (@preetalina) September 6, 2017

Preeti said she spotted the creature on a beach about 15 miles outside Galveston.

She traveled to Texas with other conservationists to assess the damage from the storm.

The photos immediately went viral and garnered several responses from her followers and others on social media.

Desai told BBC News someone told her to contact Kenneth Tighe, a museum specialist who works in the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Tighe said he believed the creature was a fangtooth snake-eel, or possibly a garden or conger eel, according to the BBC News article.

Tighe told Earth Touch News Network those eel species occur off the Texas coast and live in burrows 100-300 feet down.

Desai did not say how long or big the creature was but according to Fishbase.org, a male fangtooth snake-eel can reach a maximum total length of 84 centimeters.

After taking the photos, Desai told BBC News that she left the creature alone to let nature take its course.

She tweeted on Wednesday that the creature wasn’t frightening, colossal or a monster, just a sea creature trying to live its life.

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Former officer accused of stealing $2,400 from dead man indicted on theft charges

A former police officer was indicted for felony theft Wednesday.

Linnard Crouch, 41, turned himself in to the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office at about 3:15 p.m.

A former Texas City Police Department officer, Crouch is accused of stealing more than $2,400 worth of Christmas money from James Mabe, who authorities said was dying or had just died while driving home near 4000 Loop 197.

The crime, recorded on a body camera, happened days before Christmas in 2016.

“Unfortunately, I have seen all too many times officers who take advantage of situations,” said civil rights lawyer and the Mabe family lawyer Randall L. Kallinen.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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135,000 gallons of sludge released into Galveston Bay after equipment failure, officials say

Equipment malfunction is to blame for the release of 135,000 gallons of partially treated aerated sludge into Galveston Bay on Tuesday, according to the city.

At about 10:15 a.m., the City of Galveston Main Wastewater Treatment Plant at 5200 Port Industrial Road released 135,000 gallons of sludge after authorities said a unit failed.

The city has removed the unit where the failure happened.

The city will send water samples for testing.

No adverse impacts to aquatic life have been noted, but the city will continue to monitor the bay closely.

The release has no impact on the city’s drinking water supply.

The city said people should avoid contact with the waste material, soil, or water potentially affected by the spill.

Fishing in the area affected by the spill is strongly discouraged.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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Ex-husband strangled Baytown realtor while children in next room, prosecutors say

The ex-husband of a 37-year-old Baytown woman appeared in court Tuesday after being charged with murder.

Officials said Steven McDowell, 44, was charged in the death of 37-year-old Crystal McDowell.

Prosecutors said Steven McDowell strangled Crystal McDowell while their children were in another room.

He appeared to be crying near the end of his court appearance.

Chambers County sheriff’s detectives and Texas Rangers said they found her body in a wooded area not far from her home. Officials said she was last seen in Baytown on Aug. 25. She had been missing for two weeks.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

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Flooded cars already being put up for sale

Flooded cars are already starting to trickle off dealer lots, and that trickle could become a stream in the coming weeks, according to a local vehicle inspection company.

“We’ve inspected over 100 cars in the last three days, we’ve already found seven flood-damaged vehicles, new and used. But yes, they’re ending up back on the streets, back to consumers,” Shane Vaughn, president of Auto Exam, a pre-sale vehicle inspection company, said.

An estimated 500,000 vehicles are flood-damaged in the Houston area. About 30,000 of those vehicles have been towed to Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown.

The facility’s expansive outdoor acreage is serving as a waypoint for the vehicles before they are junked, and in some cases, auctioned.

Auto Exam and other companies are doing brisk business, inspecting cars brought in by potential buyers.

For a little more than $100, buyers get peace of mind in a sea of uncertainty.

Car shoppers can do some of the homework with these quick tips to identify potential flood cars:

Avoid cars with moisture trapped in headlights/taillights

Check under the seat, avoid cars with rusty seat rails

Pull up the carpet. Brittle carpet pad could mean the area was wet, then dried

Check the spare in the trunk. The spare “well” can hold water, even if the rest of the car is dry

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

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Man survives being shot 16 times outside southwest Houston home

A man survived being shot up to 16 times outside a home southwest Houston.

The shooting was reported around 9 p.m. Thursday. Police said 24-year-old Bryant Dobbins was standing outside a home in the 3800 block of Gouldburn when a man wearing a black bandana over his face approached and opened fire.

Dobbins was taken to Ben Taub hospital and listed in serious but stable condition. He is expected to survive.

The gunman got away before police arrived. No arrests were made.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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New texting while driving ban full of loopholes

A new Texas law now in effect that bans texting while driving is full of loopholes, Channel 2 Investigates has learned. The law took effect Sept. 1, during the height of Harvey. “I think it is going to be very difficult to enforce,” Jeff Seely, a personal injury attorney in Houston, said. Seely, who generally supports the new law, said that the legislation, a product of compromise, offers drivers a range of possible defenses and mandates that officers must not only witness offenders using their phones, but identify that the activity is specifically texting. “It gives people (permission) to use their phones under certain circumstances,” Seely said. Drivers are still permitted to make and receive phone calls, as long as local ordinance does not prohibit it. Drivers are also allowed to use navigation and music applications. The law does not address the use of internet browsers, search functions, gaming or other phone applications. However, the way the law is written, the use of messaging and communications applications like Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Twitter appear to be prohibited. In some cases, the new state law replaces more stringent local texting while driving ordinances. “I think for 99 percent of the circumstances, the law is very clear,” Rep. Gene Wu, from Houston, said. “There’s always going to be an exception, there is always going to be a head scratcher.” Wu, a co-author of the bill, concedes that the law could have been tougher, but said certain compromises had to be made. “Something is better than nothing,” Wu said. Under the law, drivers who text during emergency situations are exempt from the law. However, the bill does not make clear what constitutes an emergency. Workers sending and receiving dispatches via text or messaging apps to and from devices temporarily or fixed to a vehicle during the course of business are also exempt. On the face of it, it would appear most workers communicating with offices would be exempt, as long as their phones are mounted. “At the end of the day, we expect a jury or a judge to use good common sense and apply the law with the facts,” Wu said. Persons licensed with the FCC while operating a radio frequency device other than a wireless communication device are exempt. Hands-free texting is also allowed. Operators of authorized emergency or law enforcement vehicles are exempt, as long as the operator is on duty. “I think it’s a step forward, (but) I think it could have gone a lot further,” Seely said.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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What to do if your vehicle flooded during Hurricane Harvey

It’s bad news. Your car needs repairs and it’s no small job, either, because your ride is just one of thousands of cars damaged in the Houston area by Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters.

At Gillman Honda in Houston, employees are working furiously to handle the work load.

“We’ve got well over 100 cars in here, and taking in more every single day,” said Kelly Goldsberry, service director at Gillman Honda.

So what do you do first?

Number one, don’t start that car, because doing so could destroy it.

“Starting that car is the worst thing you can do, that and driving it, because you don’t know what part of the engine or the drive train the water got into. You could be doing thousands of dollars in damages right there,” shop foreman Danny Cheng said.

So what should you do immediately?

Remove all personal items.

Roll down the windows to help dry the vehicle.

Remove the floor mats.

Remove the spare tire in the trunk and the trunk cargo cover.

Let the repair shop remove all the car seats, because they act like giant sponges and are hard to handle if you don’t know what you are doing.

The shop will also remove all the carpeting without damaging it.

Mechanics will overhaul the vehicle and determine what repairs need to be made.

So what is the easiest way to get the insurance company pay for your repairs?

Have the dealership do it for you. After all, they are the experts in this field.

“File a claim immediately, have the car taken to an authorized facility so we can estimate the repairs, and contact the insurance provider for the customer. We do this all the time, we know the language and understand how to deal with insurance,” Goldsberry said.

Finally, if the insurance company decides to total your car out, ask your dealership to look at the vehicle and give you an accurate estimate of what that car’s true market value should be.

That way, you know what you should get from your insurance provider to cover your car’s replacement.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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Selena’s family mourning the death of Houston relatives killed in Harvey flooding

The family of legendary Tejano songstress Selena Quintanilla is mourning the death of six relatives swept away by flood waters during Harvey.

Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla took to Facebook last week to express his devastation to the news his family members died in the storm that has, as of Tuesday, claimed at least 60 lives.

“The family that drowned in Houston, Texas were related to me,” Quintanilla said in a Facebook post. “Manuel Saldivar and his wife Velia and four of their grandkids left their flooded house to go somewhere where there was safety (sic). When they cross a bridge a wave of water swept the van and push them in to the bayou the driver was saved but Manuel and his wife and 4 grandkids drowned (sic).”

Quintanilla is referring to Manuel Saldivar, 84, his spouse Belia, 81, and great-grandchildren Devy Saldivar, 16, Dominique Saldivar, 14, Xavier Saldivar, 8 and Daisy Saldivar, 6.

The family died when they were swept away by flood waters while trying to get to a relative’s home on higher ground. Manuel’s son, Sammy Saldivar, was the only person to survive the attempt to seek higher ground during the flooding. Sammy was behind the wheel.

Sammy’s brother Ric told CNN’s Eric Burnett Sammy could hear the kids screaming and crying to get out of the van.

Sammy was able to get out of their van and held onto a tree branch for his life.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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Cinco Ranch flood victims demand buyout from federal government

Residents from a Cinco Ranch subdivision are angry about the recent flooding from the Addicks-Barker Reservoir and demanding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency buy them out.

Several dozen residents from the Canyon Gate community held a prayer vigil near the subdivision Monday night, telling Channel 2 News they were not aware the area would flood.

“In my 18 years of living here, the water has never gotten over my curb,” David Tyler said. “Those of us who bought homes here were never told that we were in a spillover from the Barker Reservoir. A lot of us feel deceived, defrauded in that regard.”

“Probably 95 percent of our subdivision does not have flood insurance,” Candice Watson said. “I, personally, have had a FEMA claim denied, I’m homeless; we’ve lost both of our vehicles.”

Several residents at the vigil demanded that the government pay for the repairs to their homes or buy them out.

“We are asking the authority to fix it. Fix our houses, fix the levy, so that we are not flooded all the time,” Binay Anand said.

Meanwhile, the Fort Bend County Precinct 3 told Channel 2 that their officers, along with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, 15 troopers and 30 members of the National Guard are patrolling the subdivision to keep looters away.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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President Trump to visit Houston today to survey Harvey destruction

President Donald Trump is slated to visit Houston and Lake Charles today to survey the damage and destruction left by Harvey.

Trump is scheduled to land in Air Force One at Ellington Airport.

It will be Trump’s second visit to Texas in Harvey’s aftermath and comes a day after Trump sent lawmakers an initial request for a $7.9 billion down payment toward Harvey relief and recovery efforts.

The White House said Trump will review damage, talk at length with residents still recovering from the devastation, and meet with volunteers. Those elements were missing from his first visit to the storm-battered region.

That stop was sharply criticized as being off-key for a presidential trip to discuss communities in crisis.

Heading first to Corpus Christi, and to later Austin, Trump sat with emergency responders and state and local officials coordinating recovery efforts with his administration.

The event was marked by Trump’s impromptu speech to supporters gathered outside a Corpus Christi firehouse: “What a crowd, what a turnout,” he declared.

While Trump kept his distance from the epicenter of the damage in Houston to avoid disrupting recovery operations, his first visit was panned by critics who said he failed to adequately express compassion for the families of those killed in the storm’s path or those whose homes were flooded.

He raised eyebrows when he predicted his approach would be a model for future presidents to emulate.

“We want to do it better than ever before,” he said. “We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, ‘This is the way to do it.'”

“There was a lot of high-fiving about how well this disaster was being handled even as people were on their rooftops hoping to be rescued,” said David Axelrod, who served as a top adviser to President Barack Obama. “People need to know that their president is emotionally engaged in their struggle and part of the obligation or the responsibility of a president, particularly in a media age, is to make that human connection.”

Trump later voiced more direct concern for those caught up in the storm. At the start of a speech in Missouri on Wednesday, he said the nation was praying for those in Harvey’s path and “we are here with you every single step of the way.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized that Trump plans to have one-on-one time with victims on Saturday.

“He’ll have the chance to meet extensively with quite a few storm survivors as well as talk with some of the volunteers that are helping administer a lot of the support these individuals have needed,” Sanders said.

Trump may take cues from Vice President Mike Pence, who traveled to Texas on Thursday to visit a damaged Baptist church, clear away tree limbs and debris and hug storm victims.

Trump met Friday with evangelical leaders to promote his proclamation of Sunday as a national day of prayer for those affected by the hurricane along with relief organizations heavily involved in the recovery.

“I’m confident that this will be an opportunity for the president, on behalf of the entire nation, to show compassion and empathy for those who have lost homes and have had their lives interrupted and in some cases have lost loved ones,” said Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and one of the evangelical leaders who met with the president.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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As floodwaters continue to rise in Lake Jackson, crews come in to help with evacuees

The floodwaters continue to rise in Lake Jackson.

The city has called in for extra help to stop the water.

Crews will be working through Friday night to protect what they can.

Firefighters called on the football team to help.

As some of the remaining residents of Lake Jackson evacuated, a team of city workers and volunteers came in.

The crew loaded onto heavy-duty trucks and boats and headed to back into flooded neighborhoods.

“Just trying to help out my community,” Trevor Barnes said.

“It’s pretty bad. It got pretty bad pretty quick,” Cody Norris said.

The crew is trying to fill sandbags and build a dam to keep the floodwaters out of as many homes as possible, but it’s an uphill battle.

Paramedics took a worker to the hospital for a foot injury and EMTs treated another worker for dehydration.

During the day, the waters had already taken over – rising by the hour as locals and their pets attempted to evacuate.

“It’s rising quicker and quicker and there’s not much more we can do but save what we can,” Norris said.

Some areas are still under a mandatory evacuation order and residents are not being allowed back in to get anything.

Police said it’s too dark and too dangerous.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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Residents being warned of people impersonating city of Houston, FEMA inspectors

The city of Houston has released a statement after receiving reports about people impersonating city of Houston and Federal Emergency Management Agency inspectors.

The impostors are reportedly knocking on doors and attempting to enter homes, presumably intending to rob residents, city officials said.

“Both FEMA and Houston employees wear clearly labeled FEMA or city of Houston photo identification badges,” the city said in a statement.

City officials said members of the public who encounter such individuals should ask to see their properly labeled identification.

Anyone who suspects someone of posing as a city of Houston employee or FEMA inspector is asked to call 911 if it is an emergency. Otherwise, city officials said to report possible FEMA impersonators by calling the toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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Renters find issues with flood-damaged units, property

Katherine Frank, like thousands of renters across Houston, is feeling the pain of what Harvey left behind.

“I got rescued Sunday night by airboat and they took us to the GRB (George R. Brown Convention Center),” Frank said.

The water has receded, but left a big mess, forcing Frank to stay with family.

But since it’s the first of the month, she’s not sure what’s going to happen with rent.

“It will be hard because I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen to all of this. I’m obviously going to have to move and that’s going to be an expense, so that’s going to be another expense on top of moving all this stuff out of here,” Frank said.

Andy Teas is a spokesperson for the Houston Apartment Association.

“(The) best advice would be to make sure that you get in contact with your apartment manager today, if you can’t pay your rent, get in touch with them and let them know and see if you can work something out,” Teas said.

He said many residents need to work out specifics with their landlords.

“The law is that if a unit is totally unusable, that’s the legal term, totally unusable then either the owner or the resident can terminate the lease,” Teas said. “If the unit is partially unusable, then the resident will probably be due some sort of compensation, but that’s going to be worked out on a case-by-case basis.”

Frank has reached out to her apartment complex managers and is waiting to hear back. She’s hoping she’ll be able to move into a sister property.

President Trump commented on the story, saying on Twitter “More fake news! There is plenty of blame to go around, on both sides!”

 

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