County Judge Tab Thompson declared roads in Erath County to be an “emergency and disaster” situation Thursday, a move that Thompson and other officials hope will prompt the state to provide much-needed aid to help with the “recovery” in the wake of recent heavy, damaging rains.

“It’ll be a pretty big ticket to repair the damages,” said John Wooley, emergency management coordinator for Erath County.

“It’s overwhelming right now, but we don’t know what we got (the extent of the damage) until the water goes down,” Wooley said, adding that it is a “fluid situation” and that it may be “a good 10 days before we can look at it.”

“If we can get state help, we need to do it,” Wooley said.

Wooley was among a slew of county and other officials who addressed county commissioners Thursday during an emergency meeting of the Erath County Commissioners Court.

County Commissioners Randy Lowe and Lynn Tidwell expressed concern of what might happen if additional rain comes.

“Half an inch of rain would be scary right now,” Lowe said. “I’ve seen a lot of years of work go down the tubes the last couple of days.”

“We’re right there on the verge of disaster if we get any more,” Tidwell said.

Commissioner Doug Eberhart shared similar concerns, warning motorists to be careful.

“If you can’t see the ground, you better not go,” Eberhart said.

As of late Wednesday, Erath County had received 31.43 inches for the first five months and 27 days of 2007 - at a time when the “normal” amount for an entire year is about 33 inches, resident “weather watcher” Stuart Chilton said.

Altogether, in all 12 months of 2006, total rainfall was only 28.47 inches, Chilton said.

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.