Palestine residents believe drainage problems caused deadly flooding

After heavy flooding in the East Texas town of Palestine resulted in the death of six people, some residents believe drainage problems may have been to blame for the deadly flooding.

Jerald Jordan is dealing with a double dose of tragedy as he lost his home and lost his neighbors, Lenda Asbury and her four great-grandchildren, when the water swelled up to his rooftop.

Jordan’s girlfriend spotted two of the kids when the water receded.

“I just saw something laying there and I screamed, ‘Oh! There's a baby’s body!’ Then I saw another one,” said flood survivor Metro White. “He ran and tried to give them mouth to mouth but I told him it was too late.”

Jordan and others are now wondering how a flood this devastating could happen in their quiet cul-de-sac.

Residents believe all the debris piled up at a drain behind flooded houses proves there was a drainage problem.

City leaders say the neighborhood is not part of a flood plain but does sit adjacent to a creek that couldn't handle more than seven inches of rain in 45 minutes and all the debris that water carried. A spokesman could not say how often the drains are cleared.

“When it’s been raining the last couple of weeks, I noticed the water wasn't going anywhere,” said Deffnie Franks who lives near the drain. “It really smelled like sewage. That's what it smelled like.”

Franks also survived Hurricane Katrina. Her 16-year-old son, who was home alone, floated on top of a car to Jordan's roof, narrowly escaping. The drain sits behind her house.

“I just don't know if it was an act of nature or if it was just things unkept,” said Franks. “I think it was a little of both.”

But officials were adamant this was an unprecedented type of flood and likely couldn’t have been prevented.

“That's something we have discussed,” said city spokesman Nate Smith. “And that's something we are assessing right now.”