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Waters in Texas are still rising—and so is the risk of these 350 gators escaping

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The rain just keeps falling in southeast Texas, and an alligator sanctuary—home to more than 350 water-loving reptiles—is getting nervous.

Gator Country is a 15-acre animal preserve in Beaumont, Tex., full of alligators, venomous snakes and a host of other dangerous animals.

As Harvey continues to dump inches and inches of rain on the area, flooding Gator Country, its owner is worried that waters could soon top the fences that are keeping his 350 rescued alligators in the preserve, letting them loose in the community, according to KFDM. But as of last night, none had escaped the enclosure.

“We’ve worked around the clock, and I don't know what else to do,” Gator Country owner Gary Saurage said Monday in an interview with KFDM, a TV station in southeast Texas. “We’re truly tired. Everybody’s at the end of it, man. We don't know what to do.”

Saurage has operated the sanctuary in its current location for 12 years, with about 450 reptiles total, according to the sanctuary’s website. He says he has never before seen flooding so intense.

“We’re less than a foot a foot from (water) going over the fences,” Saurage told KFDM. “All of these are certified, high fences, but when it won’t quit, it won’t quit.”

What’s incredible about the storm, Saurage says, is that it’s so unrelenting: “I’ve never seen (the water) stay anywhere near this before,” he told KFDM. “The staying power of this storm is just unbelievable.”

Usually, when Saurage gets a call about an alligator sighting, he or someone else from the park will go out and capture it, according to the Beaumont Enterprise. Extensive flooding has made it possible for many alligators in the region to leave their natural habitats, venturing closer to where people live and work.

“We’re getting calls left and right about sightings,” Saurage told the Beaumont Enterprise. “There’s just no way I can respond to all of them right now. I'm focused on containing all our gators here.”

But Saurage does point out that it’s relatively normal for those in southeast Texas to encounter alligators, especially during storms.

The good news for the surrounding community is that the biggest of the 350 gators—appropriately named “Big Al” and “Big Tex”—have been put in trailers to weather the storm, according to KFDM. Saurage has also caught any non-native species like crocodiles and put them at higher ground.

“Everything that is not from here, we’ve put up and we have in a safe place,” Saurage told KFDM.

The bad news? Hundreds of other alligators are still outside in a fenced enclosure, with inches of rainfall expected.

Texas authorities advise residents to expect alligators to be displaced—and to leave them be:

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