Hundreds evacuated in Texas after storms leave at least 15 dead
May 27, 2015 05:52 PM EDT
Hundreds of people were ordered to evacuate flood-threatened areas of Texas on Wednesday as storms bringing torrential rains battered the state, where at least 15 people have been killed in weather-related incidents this week, including six in Houston.
People were told to stay away from more than 200 homes in Parker County where the Brazos River was poised to spill its banks about 30 miles (50 kms) west of Fort Worth on Wednesday night, county officials said.
"The river is coming up fast and flowing at dangerous volumes," Parker County Judge Mark Riley told a news conference.
The death toll in Texas was expected to rise, with about a dozen people still missing and a new round of thunderstorms pelting the already flood-hit cities of Houston and Austin.
In Hays County alone, nine people were missing after flooding on Monday caused homes to break off their foundations. Three people in the county about 30 miles (50kms) southwest of Austin were already confirmed dead.
The return of heavy rains was impeding emergency rescue efforts.
"The river is going to start to rise again," said Kharley Smith, the Hays County Emergency Management coordinator. "It is going to shift the previously inspected debris piles."
Floods damaged about 1,400 structures and snarled transport in Houston, the fourth most-populous U.S. city, where more than a thousands vehicles were trapped in rising water.
The body of the latest victim in Houston victim, a 31-year-old man, was discovered near a submerged vehicle, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said. His name was not been released.
The storms dealt a blow to air travel in the region with more than 225 flights canceled as of 3 p.m. (14:00 EST) at airports in Dallas and Houston, which are among the nation's busiest.
Near Dallas, police evacuated people living near a dam that had threatened to burst due to surging floodwaters. Water had topped the dam and police called on people living downstream to evacuate and move livestock to higher ground.
About 11 inches (28 cm) of rain fell in Houston on Monday, while parts of Austin were hit by as much as 7 inches (18 cm).
There was no damage estimate available for Texas, which has a $1.4 trillion-a-year economy and is the country's main domestic source of energy, in addition to being an agricultural and manufacturing power.