The Texas Department of Criminal Justice began evacuating roughly 1,700 prisoners from the Ramsey Unit in Rosharon on Friday morning amid record-level flooding along the Brazos River.
The river is expected to crest at nearly 53 feet in Rosharon, which is ten above flood stage, and stay that way for about a week, according to the National Weather Service. Ramsey is the third prison in Rosharon to be evacuated; Terrell and Stringfellow units were evacuated Sunday; a power outage at the Luther unit in Navasota even caused a prison riot, eventually quelled when guards released a chemical agent.
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The 1,700 inmates at Ramsey are being transferred by bus to other East Texas prisons — Huntsville and Livingston, which have available bed space — though it's unclear how long they will have to stay there. According to TDCJ, extra food and water has been distributed to those units, and extra staff has been called in to work both to assist with the evacuation and to oversee the additional inmates. Inmates from Ramsey will not be able to have visitors, but will be able to use the phones.
TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark told us that prison officials had just practiced evacuation protocols a week ago in the case of a hurricane. Looks like this is close enough.
Houston and its surrounding areas are in a flash flood watch through Saturday evening. Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties have continued to evacuate people from their homes near the Brazos, which hit an all-time record high of 55 feet on Thursday in Richmond. While the river is coming down in Richmond, not so in Rosharon. Three hundred to four hundred families were evacuated late Thursday in the area, as the Houston Chronicle reported this morning.