It used to be that during heavy rain storms, people got stupid, said Ken Ferguson, namesake of Ken’s Towing & Collision Center in Galveston.
On days like Wednesday, when many Galveston streets were filled curb to curb with water, people would try to make it through, and Ferguson would be called to fish them out.
As the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda passed over the island Wednesday morning, however, Ferguson said he’d gotten only a couple calls for help.
“People are getting really smart,” he said.
Many people in Galveston County had the day off Wednesday, as Imelda made its way northeast at a leisurely 5 mph. The tropical depression, which came ashore as a short-lived tropical storm Tuesday, dropped up to 10 inches on parts of the county in a little more than 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service in League City.
Most school districts and local colleges closed for the day, as some of the storm’s strongest bands passed through during the morning commute. Some Galveston County offices also closed.
The caution might have helped avoid any major problems on Galveston Island, City Manager Brian Maxwell said.
“I’m fairly pleased with the way the drainage system handled it,” Maxwell said.
One of the largest issues the city dealt with on Saturday was TV news trucks driving through flooded streets looking for stories, Maxwell said. The city called at least one station to warn that its trucks would be ticketed for violating the city’s no-wake ordinance if the drivers didn’t slow down, he said.
The TV station apologized. The police department did not issue any wake violations Wednesday, a police spokesman said.
Streets that flood most often on the island — Harborside Drive, The Strand and streets south of Broadway — stayed true to form and were impassable to traffic for a large chunk of the day. Even after rains abated Wednesday afternoon, streets remained flooded for hours as the drainage system caught up.
The Galveston Fire Department didn’t make any high-water rescues during the storm, and the police department didn’t find any cars that were abandoned because of flooding, officials said.
Issues were even less dramatic on the mainland. While Clear Creek did top its banks, there were few, if any, street closures around the county because of Imelda. League City did close three public parks near the creek out of precaution.
In Dickinson, there were some reports of oak trees falling because of saturated soil. The trees did not hit any houses, City Manager Chris Heard said.
The 6.17 inches that Imelda dropped on Scholes International Airport in Galveston between midnight and 2 p.m set an all-time record for rainfall in Galveston on Sept. 18. The previous high was 2.79 inches on Sept. 18, 1979.
Imelda’s remains were predicted to drop another 4 inches of rain on Galveston by Thursday evening, said Tim Cady, a meteorologist with the weather service.
“As it tracks north, the rain threat is going to track north with it,” Cady said.
The worst was expected to stay to the east of the island over coming days.
The Galveston Independent School District, however, decided late Wednesday it would cancel classes Thursday. The district said it was concerned about “a second round of pre-dawn rain and high tide.”
Later in the evening, the Texas City and Santa Fe schools districts also canceled Thursday classes, as did Odyssey Academy in Galveston.
“It was a gamble either way,” said Dyann Polzin, spokeswoman for the district. “But with conditions such that they are, we knew it was the right decision to go ahead and cancel school. We can’t take a gamble on students standing out in terrible weather.”
The skies will remain overcast Thursday and Friday, Cady said
There’s a chance the sun will break through the clouds by Saturday afternoon, however, he said.