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Recovery a faraway thought for East Texas flood evacuees

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by By Jess Huff, The – 2024-05-05 05:00:00

SUMMARY: Residents of East Texas, including 73-year-old hospice care patient Willie Rawls, faced evacuations due to severe flooding from storms and releases from the Lake Livingston Dam. Rawls was rescued by airboat and taken to refuge at Browder's Marina & Campgrounds. Residents, including the evacuated, were anxious about their submerged homes and pets, with some attempting to check property conditions. Despite temporary reprieves, further rain threatened the area. Dam authorities released water to preserve dam integrity, despite its primary function being water conservation, not flood control. Locals feared more flooding, as the dam wasn't designed for flood events.

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Willie Rawls poses for a portrait outside of a shelter where people who have evacuated from their homes are staying following significant rainstorms and flooding in Coldspring on May 4, 2024.

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John Pruitt, whose home flooded, poses for a portrait at Browder's Marina following significant rainstorms in an unincorporated area south of Lake Livingston in San Jacinto County on May 4, 2024.

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The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Photos: Texas storms cause widespread damage in Houston area

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by By Marie D. De Jesús and Antranik Tavitian, Houston Landing, The – 2024-05-17 14:45:42

SUMMARY: Severe storms hit the Houston area on Thursday evening, resulting in widespread damage, four fatalities, and power outages affecting nearly 900,000 homes and businesses. The Houston Office of Emergency Management is beginning recovery efforts, while officials discourage unnecessary travel. Reports from Houston Landing detail the extent of the destruction, which includes knocked-down power lines and damaged buildings, such as the Wells Fargo Plaza and the CenterPoint Energy Plaza. Photos provided by Antranik Tavitian and Marie D. De Jesús illustrate the damage seen across the region.

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The Muncy family looks at damaged buildings in downtown after a storm broke windows in many of the skyscrapers on Louisiana Street, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (Antranik Tavitian / Houston Landing)

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A car roof is flattened after bricks from a partially collapsed wall of Conejo Malo fell on it in downtown, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (Antranik Tavitian / Houston Landing)

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The damaged Well Fargo Plaza building in downtown, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (Antranik Tavitian / Houston Landing)

A worker clears damaged windows in the CenterPoint Energy Plaza building in downtown, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (Antranik Tavitian / Houston Landing)

Debris after the storm on Louisiana Street in downtown, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (Antranik Tavitian / Houston Landing)

From left, Luke, 8, Ryan, 6, Jaqueline, and Tanner Muncy, 6, look at the damage and debris on Louisiana Street the morning after a storm in downtown, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Houston. (Antranik Tavitian / Houston Landing)

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Thursday evening, storms smashed several transmission power lines near Highway 99 on May 16, 2024, in Cypress. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

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A man stands by a fallen branch blocks TC Jester Blvd. heading south because a large tree is impeding the roadway after a storm, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Houston. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

Thursday evening storms smashed several transmission power lines near Highway 99 on May 16, 2024, in Cypress. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

Thursday storms brought in gusts of winds up to 80 mph, damaging homes in Cypress on May 16, 2024. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

Street signs down on the corner of Bridge Creek Terrace Drive and Westgreen Blvd. in Cypress, Friday, May 17, 2024. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

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Anastasia Gill, 38, takes a call in the darkness of her backyard after losing electricity on May 16, 2024, in Houston. The roof of her house sustained damages after a tree fell on it during the storm on Thursday. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

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The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Austin will now allow homes on smaller lots

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by By Joshua Fechter, The – 2024-05-17 14:08:36

SUMMARY: Austin City Council has passed significant land-use reforms, aiming to address the city's housing affordability crisis. Single-family homes can now be built on smaller lots, and apartment buildings are allowed to be closer to single-family residences and along a new light-rail line. The reforms were pushed for years by officials and housing advocates to increase housing supply and manage soaring prices and rents, particularly accelerated by the city's growth during the pandemic. Despite opposition fearing gentrification and displacing low-income residents, there's evidence that greater construction can contain housing costs. The policies represent a notable shift towards pro-housing attitudes, but their long-term impact remains to be observed, particularly with upcoming elections. Other Texas cities are considering similar measures to alleviate housing affordability issues.

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Council members and Austin Mayor Kirk Watson are present in person during the Austin city council meeting on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Austin. Zohaib "Zo" Qadri, Paige Ellis, Mackenzie Kelly, Mayor Pro Tem Leslie Pool and José "Chito" Vela were in person with Mayor Kirk Watson

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The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Matt Mackowiak running for Texas GOP chair

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by By Robert Downen, The – 2024-05-17 08:05:06

SUMMARY: Matt Mackowiak is running for chair of the Republican Party of Texas, challenging the current leadership ahead of the party's San Antonio convention. Mackowiak, the Travis County GOP leader since 2017 and a political consultant, criticizes the deepening divisions and poor fundraising under Chair Matt Rinaldi, advocating for unity and competent fundraising. The internal party conflict involves far-right and moderate conservatives, influenced by West Texas oil billionaires Dunn and Wilks, significant donors under Rinaldi. Other candidates include Abraham George, Dana Meyers, Ben Armenta, Mike Garcia, and Weston Martinez. Mackowiak aims to address neglect, dishonesty, and improve Republican chances in upcoming elections.

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