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Texas Flash Flood: Authorities Recover Child, Man’s Bodies After Tornado Strikes

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9:45 p.m. CDT

Authorities have recovered the body of a boy from the Blanco River in rural Hays County.

The river went on a flash-flood rampage early Sunday, destroying homes. The recovery of the boy’s body brings the Central Texas confirmed death toll from floods to 10. A Hays County statement says it’s unclear whether the child is on the county’s list of those missing from the storm.

Meanwhile, the body of a man found in San Marcos has been identified as that of 74-year-old Dayton Larry Thomas, bringing the number of people missing in Hays County to eight.

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9:30 p.m. CDT

What officials say was at least one tornado has struck a gas drilling rig in the Texas Panhandle, injuring three workers.

The incident happened about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday about 2½ miles north of the town of Canadian. A spokeswoman for the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office says the work shack on the rig floor was severely damaged.

Two people were taken to Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo, about 100 miles southwest of the rig site. One was being treated for an abdominal impalement and another for non-life-threatening facial injuries. A hospital spokesman said conditions weren’t available for the two.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Julie Boydston says a third person suffered minor injuries.

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8:45 p.m. CDT

The body of a seventh person believed to be killed by flooding in the Houston area Monday night has been found.

A search for 73-year-old Alice Tovar had been ongoing since her family reported her missing Tuesday afternoon when she failed to appear for work. Her car was found later Tuesday in a ditch near flooded Big Creek in a rural area six miles south of Rosenberg and about 30 miles southwest of Houston.

A Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office statement says searchers came upon the body Wednesday evening of what is believed to be an elderly woman. The Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine positive identification, but family and investigators believe the body to be that of Tovar.

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6:30 p.m. CDT

There’s another call for an evacuation in Texas — this time in the city of Wharton.

Mayor Domingo Montalvo issued a call at 5 p.m. Wednesday for a voluntary evacuation of the west side of the city in South Texas.

The reason is the predicted rise of the Colorado River, which has seen flash flooding in the Austin and Texas Hill Country sections of its watershed upstream.

The National Weather Service reported the river level at Wharton was almost 36 feet at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Flood stage is 39 feet. The river is expected to top that level Wednesday night and not crest until it reaches almost 46 feet Friday evening. That would flood many homes in the area with up to 2-3 feet of water and isolate and flood a school.

Wharton has about 8,800 residents and is 55 miles southwest of Houston.

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6 p.m. CDT

Officials have released the identity of the second of three people whose bodies were found along the flooded Blanco River downstream from Wimberley.

Hays County officials say the body of 29-year-old Jose Alvero Arteaga-Pichardo was found Tuesday afternoon near Loop 165 in Wimberley.

Officials earlier Wednesday identified a body found Tuesday morning in Caldwell County as that of 43-year-old Michelle Marie Carey-Charba.

The body of a third person, an unidentified man found in San Marcos, will need DNA testing to identify.

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5:15 p.m. CDT

Officials are going door-to-door in one area along the Brazos River, urging about 250 residents to leave their homes because of flooding concerns.

Parker County emergency management spokesman Joel Kertok said Wednesday that it’s the Horseshoe Bend area along the river that’s affected.

He said the Possum Kingdom Lake dam had opened three floodgates, then reduced that to two as of 3 p.m. The river level was 18 feet, with 21 feet being flood stage. He said the river was expected to reach flood stage Wednesday night and crest at 23.6 feet early Friday, a moderate flood.

Among those leaving Horseshoe Bend was Brazos River RV Resort owner Chuck Bayne. He says he’s been through four floods on the Brazos. With the river already topping its banks, he took some equipment from his garage and headed for his second home in Arlington.

He says half of those with homes in the subdivision are weekenders. He said most others were leaving for hotels in nearby Weatherford or to stay with relatives.

But he said there are “a couple dozen who aren’t leaving” because “they’re afraid of looters” or are “just plain stubborn.”

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3:45 p.m. CDT

Officials say they expect a swollen suburban Houston river to keep rising and to remain high throughout the weekend and they have suggested that those living near its banks may want to leave.

Harris County Flood Control District officials haven’t ordered residents of subdivisions along the West Fork of the San Jacinto River to leave, but they have said it may not be a bad idea.

Spokeswoman Kim Jackson said Wednesday that the district is closely monitoring the situation and is working to alert residents of the potential dangers. She says water released from the Lake Conroe dam is contributing to the surge, as is runoff from two flooded creeks.

The area has a history of flooding and many homes are elevated on stilts or mounts.

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3:30 p.m. CDT

This has been the wettest month on record for Texas, and there are still several days left.

The Office of the State Climatologist at Texas A&M University said Wednesday that an average of 7.54 inches of rain has already fallen in Texas in May. The previous record was 6.66 inches, which fell in June 2004.

John Nielsen-Gammon, who serves as the state climatologist, says continuous storms for the past week to 10 days have contributed to rainfall records in many locales.

The wettest area has been from Dallas-Fort Worth to the Red River, where some places have gotten more than 20 inches of rain.

Recent storms have caused widespread flooding and killed at least 15 people in Texas and four others in Oklahoma. Twelve people in Texas are also missing.

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3:15 p.m. CDT

The number of people missing in Central Texas following catastrophic flooding has dropped from 11 to nine, dropping the statewide total of storm-related missing people to 12.

Hays County sheriff’s Lt. Jeri Skrocki said Wednesday that the county’s death toll following weekend flooding along the Blanco River remains at three. She says two of the dead initially were among the list of the missing but their identities have since been confirmed by authorities.

The latest storm-related death identified by officials was that of 43-year-old Michelle Marie Carey-Charba.

More than 100 people continued to search along the Blanco River on Wednesday for other bodies but were slowed by large debris fields.

Texas’ overall storm-related death count stands at 15. Oklahoma’s stands at four.

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2:50 p.m.

Authorities have ordered the evacuation of about 350 homes west of Fort Worth because the swollen Brazos River is expected to flood the area.

Parker County officials said Wednesday that residents need to clear out of the homes by 8 p.m. The evacuation order primarily affects homes in the communities of Horseshoe Bend, Lazy Bend and Soda Springs.

The Brazos River Authority has opened several flood gates at Possum Kingdom Lake, about 70 miles west of Fort Worth, and the Brazos continues to rise due to the heavy rain of recent days.

More rain is expected overnight, and officials say the river should hit flood stage late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Several days of storms have caused widespread flooding, killing at least 15 people in Texas and four in Oklahoma.

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1:40 p.m.

Officials estimate that anywhere from 800 to 1,400 homes in Houston have been damaged by the storms and flooding of recent days.

Harris County Emergency Management spokesman Francisco Sanchez said Wednesday that there are about 1,400 homes in Houston with some degree of damage. Michael Walter, a spokesman for the city’s Office of Emergency Management, put that figure at about 840 homes.

Sanchez says almost 70 homes in unincorporated areas of Harris County were also damaged.

Storms have caused extensive flooding in various parts of Texas in recent days and have been blamed for the deaths of at least 15 people and disappearance of more than a dozen others. Four Oklahoma deaths have also been blamed on the storms.

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12:40 p.m.

Authorities in Houston have confirmed two more storm-related deaths, raising the combined Texas and Oklahoma death toll to 19 people.

Houston’s emergency operations center announced the deaths Wednesday in a news release.

Searchers are still looking for more than a dozen people in Texas who went missing during the powerful storms in recent days. The storm-related death toll in Texas stands at 15. Four people were confirmed killed in Oklahoma.

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12:10 p.m.

Authorities say the catastrophic flooding in Central Texas has damaged thousands of homes and hampered efforts to locate 11 people who went missing.

Kenneth Bell, emergency management coordinator for San Marcos, said Wednesday that 744 homes in San Marcos were damaged or destroyed over the holiday weekend when the Blanco River surged to nearly 45 feet. Homes in Wimberley and other nearby communities also sustained extensive damage, as did homes in southeastern Texas, including Houston.

Bell says three people have died in the Hays County flooding, two men and one woman, and more than 100 people are involved in the search. He says the search has been made harder by tornado warnings, high water and other weather-related obstacles.

Bell says the area has been contending with regular flooding since May 4.

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11:45 a.m. CDT

Authorities in South Texas are searching for a 73-year-old woman whose car was found in a ditch submerged in floodwater.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that Alice Tovar’s car was found Tuesday afternoon in the Rosenberg area, which is about 30 miles southwest of Houston.

She is among more than a dozen people in Texas that have gone missing since storms caused extensive flooding over the last few days.

The sheriff’s office says Tovar’s daughter went looking for her after a hearing that her mother’s car wasn’t parked at the store where she works. She found the submerged car along the route her mother takes to work, and a passing motorist used his truck to pull it from the ditch. Tovar wasn’t in the car.

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10:45 a.m. CDT

Police say the threat of a dam southwest of Dallas breaking has passed.

Midlothian police Capt. John Spann said late Wednesday morning that water was still coming over the earthen dam at Padera Lake, near Midlothian, but that the volume had decreased. The area has experienced days of heavy rain.

Emergency personnel planned to shut down Highway 287 if the dam broke, because it could have flooded with a couple feet of water. About a dozen homes in the mostly rural area were threatened as well.

Midlothian is some 25 miles southwest of Dallas.

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9:20 a.m. CDT

New thunderstorms are snarling traffic in the flood-weary Houston area but don’t appear to be exacerbating the problems in parts of the flood-battered city.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says the good news Wednesday is that the heavy rainfall is in a different area of the region than those most affected on Tuesday. But county officials say additional rainfall could lead to problems on bayous, creeks and rivers.

Some scattered spots on service roads along Interstate 45 north of Houston were flooded but main lanes were moving.

About 2½ inches of rain were recorded in north and northwest Harris County Wednesday with a line of storms that began just before dawn. More than double that amount has been reported in more rural counties northwest of Houston.

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9:07 a.m. CDT

More than 100,000 gallons of untreated wastewater has spilled into floodwaters after a wastewater treatment plant in Houston flooded.

Houston’s Department of Public Works and Engineering said in a news release that the Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant flooded Tuesday when a bayou overflowed its banks during extensive rains, damaging the plant’s electrical and mechanical systems.

The department says the spill has been contained and they’ve increased monitoring of the water supply systems. The department says cleanup at the plant will start once the flooding subsides.

The department says people should not swim in affected areas. It also says people are not required to boil their water, but may wish to do so.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has been notified of the spill.

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7:45 a.m. CDT

Police say emergency personnel could shut down a highway if a dam southwest of Dallas breaks.

Water was flowing over the top of the earthen dam at Padera Lake, near Midlothian, early Wednesday morning following days of heavy rain.

If the dam breaks, Highway 287 could flood with a couple of feet of water.

Midlothian police Capt. John Spann says officials will divert traffic if that happens, but for now they must “just wait and see.”

He says it’s mostly a rural area, but that residents of around a dozen homes have been warned they could be in jeopardy of flooding if the dam breaks. He says they are not in danger of being swept away and that there’s no mandatory evacuation order.

Midlothian is some 25 miles southwest of Dallas.

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2:15 a.m. CDT

Authorities in Texas are defending the way they handled alerting residents during the recent severe weather that left about a dozen people missing and about a dozen dead across the state.

But they are also acknowledging some challenges.

In Hays County, where a vacation home was swept away by flooding, authorities say warnings included multiple cellphone alerts and calls to landlines.

Some people also received in-person warnings to evacuate, but officials couldn’t say whether the eight people in the washed-away home talked to police.

A county commissioner says leaders will consider changes in dealing with tourists, who are harder to reach.

In Houston, where rain submerged roads and stranded motorists, warnings from the National Weather Service buzzed on cellphones. But city officials hadn’t yet installed a system that would allow them to send more targeted warnings.


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