By Associated Press - Monday, April 25, 2016

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) - Nearly 240 Texas and Louisiana residents have sued the Sabine River Authority over March flooding that inundated hundreds of homes and closed Interstate 10.

Communities in Southeast Texas and Louisiana were flooded by up to 20 inches of rain last month that forced evacuations along and near the Sabine River, which serves as a long border between the two states.

The lawsuit alleges water released from the Toledo Bend Reservoir by the river authority to relieve pressure on the reservoir’s banks and gates contributed to the flooding of homes and businesses, the Beaumont Enterprise reported ( ) Monday. The reservoir extends through Texas and Louisiana on the Sabine River.

At the peak of releases, water was flowing through the dam at a rate exceeding 200,000 cubic feet per second - or twice the average rate of Niagara Falls.

“By opening the spillway gates in this manner, the defendants knew, or were substantially certain, that harm would result to the many thousands of homeowners, business owners, churches, and others who owned property downstream,” the lawsuit said.

Ann Galassi, the river authority’s assistant general manager in Texas, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in state court in Orange County, Texas. The river authority, an official Texas agency, controls, stores, preserves and distributes the waters of the Sabine River and its tributary system.

The agency has previously said the Toledo Bend isn’t designed for flood control and they were following engineering rules to protect the reservoir from being damaged.

The Toledo Bend Reservoir hit a record high water level on March 10 following heavy rains, prompting managers to open all the floodgates.

The lawsuit does not specify how much the individual plaintiffs - 105 of whom are from Texas - are seeking in compensation.


Information from: The Beaumont Enterprise,

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