The US Army Corp of Engineers sent out a stark warning last night that residents living in Barlow Lake Estates in Works Bluff who choose to stay will not necessarily be rescued.
Horrifyingly, they added that people who stay should find ways to ensure their bodies are identified.
Tyler County Emergency Management wrote on Facebook: “River levels will rise to near seventy nine feet. With additional rain fall accumulations, a potential elevation could reach near eighty two feet.
“All residents living in Mt. Neches, Barlow Lake Estates, Works Bluff on CR 4415, Sheffield Ferry and Bottom Loop-CR 4700 who have not already evacuated must do so immediately.
“Anyone who chooses to not heed this directive cannot expect to be rescued and should write their social security numbers in permanent marker on their arm so their bodies can be identified.
“The loss of life and property is certain.”
The warning comes after the death toll from Hurricane Harvey climbed to at least 31, with the fire department in Houston searching thousands of flooded homes to ensure “no people were left behind”.
Among the dead are six family members – four of them children – whose bodies were pulled on Wednesday from a van that had been swept off a Houston bridge into a bayou.
Harvey was downgraded to a tropical depression and the floodwaters started dropping across much of the Houston area, but major dangers remained for the US Gulf Coast area.
While conditions in the nation’s fourth-largest city appeared to improve, another crisis related to Harvey emerged at a chemical plant about 25 miles away.
A spokeswoman for the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas, said the flooded facility had lost power and backup generators, leaving it without refrigeration for chemicals that become volatile as the temperature rises.
Janet Smith, spokeswoman for the French company, said: ”The fire will happen. It will resemble a gasoline fire. It will be explosive and intense in nature.”
Thousands of Houston-area homes are under water and could stay that way for days or weeks.
Officials said 911 centres in the Houston area are getting more than 1,000 calls an hour from people seeking help.