State of Disaster Declared in 31 Texas Counties Amidst Severe Flooding

The Weather Channel

Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster across 31 counties in the Lone Star State as a severe storm parked itself over the region, causing flash flooding. Heavy rain was falling at a rate of up to 3 inches per hour, said meteorologist Jonathan Erdman.

According to the National Weather Service, up to 4 feet of rapidly flowing water has already been reported in some parts of the city.  

The Lubbock Police Department said multiple vehicles have stalled out in the high water.

Six Killed By Flooding

Six people have died and possibly four more are missing as the Plains states continue to deal with flooding brought on by severe storms that repeatedly pounded the region last week. Rivers in the region are cresting at historic highs, prompting numerous evacuations and water rescues.

On Tuesday evening in the Dallas metro, water rescues were reported in the towns of Sachse, Garland and Rowlett, according to National Weather Service storm reports. It wasn’t immediately known how many people needed rescue, or what the condition of those victims were.

The two latest confirmed deaths from flooding were discovered on Sunday. Florida Molima was riding in a car with two others near Comfort, Texas, when the vehicle was swept from the street by a flooded creek. The 23-year-old was missing until her body was found around 11 a.m. Sunday about 8 miles downstream.

A body was found also in Travis County, Texas, by a crew conducting an aerial search. It is unclear whether the victim is one of the two motorists still reported missing in the area. They were reported missing early Friday after their vehicle was washed away by flash flooding. A 10-year-old boy in Parker County, Texas, who was swept into the Brazos River remains missing.

Saturday officials in Washington County, Texas, announced that the bodies of two missing motorists had been found in separate parts of the county located between Austin and Houston. One was identified as Darren Mitchell, who posted a photo from inside of his flooding vehicle to Facebook.

The Brenham Fire Department told ABC 13 that one person died in a trailer home in Chappell Hill, Texas. The home was flooded as storms stalled over the Brenham area Thursday night. Another person died of a heart attack after their vehicle was swept away by the flood waters on Gayhill Road in Brenham, Texas.

High waters covered roadways and prompted evacuations across the region Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tornadoes that caused damage were also reported in the Lone Star State and Kansas, where twisters had been spotted for three consecutive days.

Here are the latest impacts from these storms.

Evacuations and Water Rescues Ongoing

Residents trying to leave Rosenberg, Texas, ahead of rising waters early Tuesday afternoon. (Rosenberg Police Department)

Flooding along the Brazos River continues to cause problems along its path through the state.

“I’m scared,” said Abigail Salazar, standing in knee-deep water outside her home in Richmond, where she was retrieving personal belongings after the city issued a voluntary evacuation advisory. “My kids ask me in the morning, ‘Ma, what happened? The water is here.'”

Large swaths of suburban communities southwest of Houston were underwater and hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes before the Brazos River reached 54.37 feet in Fort Bend County, just two years after it had run dry in places because of drought.

Scott Overpeck, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said that the Brazos will recede in the coming days but that its levels will remain high for up to three weeks, in part because water will need to be released from swollen reservoirs upriver.

“There’s so much water on the Brazos that it’s going to take a long time to drain through the whole river and drain out into the Gulf of Mexico,” Overpeck said.

Police in Rosenberg spent much of Tuesday morning and early afternoon conducting water rescues. The Kingdom Heights community west of Houston was completely cut off by floodwater Tuesday morning. The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office reported that there is no way in or out of the community until the water recedes.

About 1,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in Fort Bend County as of Tuesday morning.

Rising water on the Colorado River led authorities to close Lake Austin, Lady Bird Lake, and the rest of the river downstream of Longhorn Dam.

“We apologize for the timing and inconvenience but this is beyond our control,” the Austin Fire Department said in a statement. “Obviously, safety comes first.”

In Simonton, the Brazos flooded one home so badly that the residents were forced to bring their horses to the front porch of the house, to keep them out of the floodwaters, KHOU reports.

Sunday a crew aboard a county STAR Flight helicopter discovered a body in Travis County.

The body was found on the north end of a retention pond near the Circuit of the Americas auto racing track, near where two people were reported to have been washed away by flooding early Friday, the Associated Press reports. It’s unclear whether the victim is one of the missing.

The exact details of the incident are still unclear, but reports to police said the individual’s car had been swept off the road and one person was seen hanging onto a pole around 2:30 a.m, according to KXAN. There may have been another person with them.

The bodies of two missing motorists were found Saturday in separate parts of Washington County, located between Austin and Houston.

Washington County Judge John Brieden told the Associated Press that the body of Pyarali Rajebhi Umatiya, 59, of College Station, was found in a submerged vehicle. The body of Darren Charles Mitchell, 21, a National Guardsman from Navasota, was found downstream from where his overturned truck had been located earlier.

Prior to his vehicle being found, Mitchell posted to Facebook when his car was in flood water, “And all I wanted to do was go home.” Friday morning, officials found his truck overturned in water near 105.

Earlier in the week, one person was found dead in a mobile home that was swamped with floodwaters and a second person was found in a vehicle that had gone off of a road was submerged in a ditch.

Saturday officials in Parker County searched for a 10-year-old boy that went missing after being swept into the Brazos River, CBS DFW reports. The boy had been fishing with friends when he fell into the water.

Texas prison officials had to evacuate about 2,600 inmates from two prisons along the rain-swollen Brazos River due to expected flooding Sunday, the Associated Press reports. A brawl between inmates and correctional officers broke out Saturday after flooding at a facility about 70 miles northwest of Houston caused a power outage.

The incident occurred around 10 p.m. Saturday at the Luther Unit prison in Navasota. Flooding caused the prison to switch to its emergency power generator, which malfunctioned and caused the outage. Correctional officers ordered inmates back to their cells, but some refused to comply. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark estimated as many as 50 inmates in the 1,300-inmate prison were involved. Three were sent to a hospital; one for stitches and two for unrelated medical issues.

Inmates at the Terrell and Stringfellow Units in Rosharon were moved Sunday morning to other prisons with available space.

Flooded rivers and creeks throughout the state prompted officials to ask for mandatory and voluntary evacuations of homes. Most of the 800 residents of Simonton were ordered to evacuate Saturday due to the rising levels of the Brazos, AP also reports. In the Houston-area Northwood Pines subdivision, families were asked to voluntarily evacuate their homes and apartments Saturday due to rising levels of a nearby creek.

Five people were rescued from the roof of a home by helicopter near Austin. Several Austin neighborhoods were evacuatedearly Friday morning, KXAN reports, and drivers were asked to stay off roads in Bastrop County due to the dangerous situation of rising waters along the Colorado River.

Highway 71 was closed at the Travis/Bastrop County Line due to water over the roadway, KXAN reported. Washington County saw 36 high water rescues Thursday and State Highway 36 and U.S. 290 became flooded and impassable, NWS reports.

Kansas Boy Still Missing

An 11-year-old boy is missing after falling into a creek on Friday night, the Wichita Eagle reports. He fell into the rushing waters of Gypsum Creek and was swept away as his friends tried to rescue him, Wichita Fire Battalion Chief John Turner said. Dozens of fire crews and policemen searched into the night until the waters of the creek receded too far for boats to enter it, and searches resumed on Saturday morning. Turner said it is now considered a body recovery mission.

Several roads are closed in the area due to the flooding, the Kansas City Star reports.

A tornado was reported in Wamego Thursday, and photos and videos of damage surfaced online.

Trees were uprooted and cars were destroyed by the downed timbers, reports KSNT News. A tree also collapsed on top of a home.

4 thoughts on “State of Disaster Declared in 31 Texas Counties Amidst Severe Flooding

  1. Gr8. … now the national guard and militarized police state can move in like Katrina and take all the wet guns.
    Hang in there Texas.
    We’re praying for you and you are in our thoughts.

        1. I was hoping we’d hear something from him Angel. I’m definitely praying that he and his family are okay. It may take a few days to know. 🙁

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