Texas flood costs could crest at $1
Weather.com, July 9, 2002
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Gov. Rick Perry said losses from a week of severe flooding could add up to $1 billion, a bleak estimate that came as waters continued to rise in some areas.
"Once all these floodwaters recede, we'll see the impact," Perry said Monday after touring a flooded home in San Antonio. "It's going to be substantial. ... This is another major, major blow to the state of Texas."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency added 11
counties Monday to the existing list of 13 counties that President Bush last
week proclaimed disaster areas.
Perry had requested that 17 more counties be given the disaster designation that will allow residents and businesses to qualify for federal aid. FEMA spokesman David Passey said the other six counties on the governor's list were still under federal consideration.
The flooding appears to be getting worse in some places. Waters rose near Corpus Christi as authorities released water from the brimming Lake Corpus Christi Reservoir, and forecasters said a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico could bring more rain to already water-logged areas.
More than 30 inches of rain have fallen in the past week, sending streams and rivers pouring out of their banks from the San Antonio area to rural west Texas, more than 150 miles away.
Homes have been ripped off their foundations by the dirty brown water, and floodwaters have surged toward communities between San Antonio and the Gulf of Mexico.
The death toll rose to nine Monday when the body of
32-year-old Chris Lewis was found just north of San Antonio. At least one other
person was still missing.
Accompanied by federal, state and local officials, the governor walked through Roman and Hilda Mendoza's home, flooded last week when rain and runoff pushed Woodlawn Lake in San Antonio over its shores. More than 100 houses were damaged.
Roman Mendoza said he didn't know why his house was selected, but he was happy to show the governor what happened.
"It brings a little scope on how it hurt not only us, but how the rest of our neighbors were affected," he said.
In the Abilene area, water continued to recede Monday. All of the city's streets were open, and cleanup continued for hundreds of residents whose houses flooded Saturday.
Runoff from that area caused Lake Brownwood to overflow into Pecan Bayou, which flooded a 2-square-mile section of Brownwood's business district.
Lisa May, who owns Humphrey Pete's and Skillet's restaurants along the bayou, rejoiced Monday when she saw that water didn't reach the 2-foot-high sandbags her family frantically piled against the doors early Sunday morning.
"If the water had gone up another foot, it would
have come in," May said.
Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Disastrous Texas Floods Sweep Away Lives, Homes
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas, July 8, 2002 (ENS) - At least eight people are dead and thousands have lost their homes as a week of flooding inundated several central Texas towns and cities. Continuing torrential rains are expected to cause even more damage as the floodwaters head for the south Texas coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
Eight days of heavy rain have dropped more than 30 inches of water in some parts of south central Texas. The San Antonio, Guadalupe and Medina Rivers have left their banks, rising as much as 28 feet above flood stage at some points.
On Sunday, Texas Governor Rick Perry toured the devastation by helicopter, viewing houses swamped up to their roofs, drowned cattle and other livestock, and major roadways identifiable only by the tops of their road signs.
"The devastation is extensive," Perry said after his helicopter tour. "Obviously when the water goes down we're going to see the impact on residential property is going to be substantial."
Governor Perry has declared a state of disaster in 29 counties, and President George W. Bush has so far approved federal disaster funding for 10 counties.
"Heavy rains and severe flooding have hit South and Central Texas extremely hard, especially in San Antonio," Perry said. "With this assistance, the recovery process can begin for families and businesses devastated by heavy rains and flooding."
"These floods have affected thousands of residents in central Texas," added Joe Allbaugh, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
So far, the towns hardest hit have been near the center of the state, in New Braunfels, San Antonio, Brownwood and nearby areas. On July 1, more than nine and a half inches of rain fell at the San Antonio International Airport, the second rainiest day in the city's history.
On Sunday, an unexpected storm dumped about 12 inches of rain near Abilene, adding another region of flood damage to the already stricken state.
The American Red Cross estimates that at least 48,000 homes have been impacted by the flooding.
"It's getting really scary. These aren't small counties, they are Texas counties. We are talking about a huge area flooded," said Kathryn Keck, communications director for the American Red Cross San Antonio Area chapter.
The American Red Cross has opened about 20 shelters for evacuees, and the organization plans to assess other ways it which it might help once the rains end.
"We can't begin damage assessment until the rains stop," said Keck. "The rivers, creeks and lakes are so swollen that even a half an inch of rain could cause flash floods. Because the situation is so critical, we can't send volunteers out to assess homes. It would be putting their lives in jeopardy."
As evacuated residents began to return to their homes in northern towns and cities, more people were forced out of their homes ahead of the flood surge now headed for the Gulf of Mexico.
So far, the flooding has claimed eight lives, including an 11 year old boy who was taken off life support on Friday, five days after he fell into a flooding creek in San Antonio. The other victims include another San Antonio residents, two from Austin, and two from Hill County. At least one man remains missing.
Weather forecasters say the first major tropical
storm of the season could hit the Gulf of Mexico later this week, adding even
more rain to Texas's already drenched landscape.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2002. All Rights Reserved.
Texas Flooding Drives Thousands from
Reuters News Service, July 6, 2002
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Raging rivers swollen by more than 40 inches of rain swept away houses and forced thousands of people to higher ground on Friday as flooding inundated much of southern and central Texas.
The National Weather Service warned of "catastrophic flooding" and urged those downstream to get out of harm's way.
The rain, which began pounding the region a week ago and has reached 42 inches in places, has been blamed for seven deaths.
Hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed by normally placid rivers turned into dangerous torrents sweeping down the limestone canyons of the Texas Hill Country.
Towns along the Medina River west of San Antonio and the Guadalupe River to the north and east were evacuated on Friday as the rivers rose near record levels.
"People need to get out of their homes if they live anywhere near the Guadalupe," Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke warned from his office in Seguin, 30 miles east of San Antonio.
Television reports showed a large house floating in rapidly running river near the town of New Braunfels, where an estimated 5,000 people fled the floods.
For the first time, water was pouring over the spillway of the Canyon Lake dam built on the Guadalupe above New Braunfels, which is north of San Antonio, in the 1960s.
The already rain-saturated area around the dam got another 6 to 8 inches of rain on Friday, the weather service said.
More than 4,000 people were evacuated overnight from the towns of Castroville and LaCoste along the Medina River southwest of San Antonio. On Friday afternoon, three more towns were evacuated as the rain continued to pour on the river's headwaters in the Hill Country to the north.
Medina County officials told everyone living within a mile of the river to get out for fear that it might flow over the top of Medina Dam for the first time since the structure was built in 1915.
'REFRIGERATORS UP IN THE TREES'
Karen Schenck, who has a ranch near Bandera on the Medina River, told Houston television station KTRK that she and 400 other people, many of them children, had been stranded for six days at a summer camp cut off by the floods.
She said they were running out of food and devising a plan to walk several miles through the rugged hills to a highway.
"We've had 36 inches of rain," Schenck told the station. "The river is rampant, and it's full of big cypress trees and houses and there are refrigerators up in the trees."
Bandera, which is 40 miles northwest of San Antonio, was completely surrounded by water, preventing cars from leaving or entering the town, according to news reports.
A small dam on Chiminea Creek northwest of San Antonio burst on Friday, forcing evacuations in the towns of Helotes and Gray Forest.
"Pray for us in Gray Forest and Helotes," said evacuee Joan Farias, who fled her home with only the clothes she was wearing. "We just hope we can see the sun again soon."
On Thursday, President Bush declared 10 of the rain-sodden counties disaster areas, which will make federal assistance available to flooding victims.
Jerry Johns, spokesman for insurance industry trade group Southwest Insurance Information Service, said on Friday that "several hundred million dollars" of damage had already been done and more was likely.
New wave of flood woes in Texas
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (AP) -- For days, deadly flooding has ravaged the Hill Country, and now communities downstream are feeling the pain. With thousands of homes evacuated, heavy rains and flash flood warnings continued Friday in the region.
What started as a trickle over the spillway at Canyon Lake on Thursday had grown into a raging waterfall pouring into the already swollen Guadalupe River. The massive volume of water threatened to ravage homes and businesses in New Braunfels, where residents had been ordered to leave their homes by early Friday.
A few hours later, flood waters were expected to hit Seguin.
Meanwhile, to the west, more than 4,000 people remained evacuated early Friday from Castroville to LaCoste because of Medina River flooding, the Medina County Sheriff's Department said.
"Medina Lake is the primary concern, and whether the flooding will overflow the dam," said Frank Perkins, who is helping coordinate relief efforts. "If that happens, we'll have a lot of problems. So that's our main threat right now."
A sheriff's spokeswoman said the mandatory evacuation was for anyone within one mile of the river, which reached 23 feet above flood stage at Bandera on Thursday before water began to recede. The downriver communities of LaCoste and Somerset were scheduled to be 20 feet above flood stage late Friday, and perhaps even higher if rains persist.
"We've had high water, but nothing near this," said Jonelle Crow, who lives five miles north of Castroville along the river. "The water is rushing tremendously fast."
The flood ripped five tall pecan trees out of the ground where they've grown for more than 100 years, she said.
Roads across Bandera County to the north were flooded by Thursday morning. All highways into the county were closed.
In Seguin, police and firefighters went door to door in riverside neighborhoods Thursday night, evacuating upscale houses and vacation homes. As many as 400 people were cleared out, some of them going to an emergency shelter set up elsewhere in the city of 22,000.
"If we don't experience any more rain, then we can probably just keep it in those areas," city spokesman Rafael Aviles said. "It's tragic those homes will suffer some flood damage, but the fewer areas it can stay in the better."
Flooding is expected in Seguin sometime after noon Friday, Aviles said.
Evacuations also took place in New Braunfels, 14 miles upstream of Seguin, where the normally slow-flowing Guadalupe has long been popular with tourists whose spending supports scores of local businesses.
Linda Coble owns a wood-frame house about 30 yards from the river, built on the foundation of a stone house destroyed by flooding just four years ago.
As her children loaded up a trailer with valuables, Coble looked out at the brown-flowing Guadalupe that she's lived next to for more than two decades. She says she'll stay put until the water level almost reaches the house.
"It's beautiful -- it makes a real powerful sound as you watch the white water get higher and higher," she said. "The kids all have bets on (how high) it's going to be."
A block away, Al Rose and his children were removing everything from their brick ranch-style house, loading it all into a U-Haul van and two trailers.
"I'm not going to take any chances," he said. "I'd rather spend a few hundred dollars and get everything out than spend thousands of dollars later."
President Bush declared 10 counties as disaster areas Thursday, even as hundreds of people were being evacuated from homes and campgrounds around Canyon Lake.
Bush's declaration makes federal aid available to a region pounded this week by rain and associated flooding that killed at least seven people and caused extensive damage. Federal funding will become available to people affected by flooding in Bandera, Bexar, Blanco, Comal, Gillespie, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Medina and Uvalde counties.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said damage surveys continue in other areas and additional assistance and counties may be added after assessments are completed. Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday declared a state disaster for 29 South and Central Texas counties.
Flood warnings will likely be in effect through the weekend for South Central Texas and the Hill Country, said National Weather Service meteorologist Larry Peabody in New Braunfels.
Copyright 2002Associated Press. All rights reserved.
CNN.com, July 3, 2002
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (AP) -- Torrential rain drenched central Texas for a fourth straight day Tuesday, flooding homes and blocking highways. One man died and another was missing after they were swept away in floodwaters.
Gov. Rick Perry activated the Texas National Guard to help with relief efforts. Rescue teams used rafts, personal watercraft and helicopters to rescue people from stranded vehicles and flooded homes.
The storm has dumped more than 15 inches of rain in some areas. Less than a week ago, water restrictions were imposed because of a drought.
Low-lying areas in San Antonio were under several feet of water, while dry creek beds were transformed into boiling brown torrents carrying trees and household appliances downstream.
In Utopia, about 75 miles west of San Antonio, a man died after being washed off a farm tractor while traveling to help other people, said Travis Hall, a state police spokesman. Another man was swept away from a car stuck in deep water.
The Sabinal River, which runs through a small park in Utopia, broke out of its banks in several spots and sent a "wall of water" about 10 feet high through the town, said resident Iona Alley.
"Several people had to be rescued out of trees. Water was anywhere from two to three feet in homes," Alley said.
Residents around Hueco Tanks, about 18 miles east of El Paso, were whipped by winds of up to 80 mph that damaged sheds, carports, windows and water, said Joe Rogash, with the National Weather Service.
High waters also closed portions of U.S. Highway 90 near Castroville in Medina County on Tuesday.
More than 100 roads were under water at one point Tuesday afternoon in San Antonio, including the main lanes of U.S. 281 and U.S. 90.
More than a dozen people were ordered to evacuate a mobile home park in Austin.
Storms will continue until at least Wednesday and possible into the Fourth of July, said weather service meteorologist Larry Eblen.
On Sunday, a second man drowned in Austin when he fell into a swollen creek. An 11-year-old boy was in critical condition after being rescued from a San Antonio creek, where he fell in after losing his footing on a bank. About 70 roads in Hays County were closed by high water.
"Everything is flooded that can be flooded," said Hays County Sheriff's Sgt. Allen Bridges. "There is no way to get east or west or north or south in the country right now."
The governor said two National Guard helicopters were sent to help travelers who were stranded by high water on Interstate 10 on Tuesday. Twenty National Guard personnel and 10 large trucks were sent to San Antonio to assist with rescues and evacuations.
Several state parks were closed or had been forced to move campers to higher ground Tuesday.
Flooding of the Frio and Nueces rivers and their tributaries closed a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from Cotulla to Dilley in Frio County for more than 10 hours Monday.
"The county is shut down. We've had cars swept off the road and people stuck in houses," Frio County chief deputy Rodney Lucio said.
Farther south, LaSalle County also had high water.
"I guess this is our 100-year flood. ... I'm flooded all over the county. Every crossing I have is flooded," said LaSalle County Sheriff Jerry Patterson. The Border Patrol office in Laredo sent watercraft to aid with rescue efforts.
The heavy rainfall had boosted the area's Edwards Aquifer by more than 25 feet Monday. Last week, the aquifer's decline had triggered mandatory water use restrictions in San Antonio.
Copyright 2002 TheAssociated Press. All rights reserved