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Storms batter flood-hit Texas

Published 30/05/2015

Storms sweeping across Texas have set new records for rainfall
Storms sweeping across Texas have set new records for rainfall

Heavy rain was pounding Dallas today as US authorities searched for 11 people still missing in the record storms that have submerged roads and flooded homes across Texas.

At least 28 people have been killed nationwide in the storms, 24 of them in Texas.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Johnson and Tarrant counties near Dallas-Fort Worth.

Before today's rain, the agency said 16.07 inches (40.8cms) of rain had already fallen across the Dallas area in May, easily eclipsing a 1982 record of 13.66 inches (34.7cms).

Rainfall records in the last week have been smashed across Texas - from Corpus Christi along the Gulf of Mexico to Gainesville near the Oklahoma border. Even Amarillo in the dusty Texas Panhandle is in its second wettest month on record, said meteorologist Dennis Cain.

The downpour has inundated a state that until recently was suffering a severe drought. Swelled rivers and lakes may not recede to normal levels until July.

"In a lot of places, we've exceeded the wettest year ever," Mr Cain said. "You're talking maybe a 150- or 200-year event. It is quite astounding."

A handful of volunteers, meanwhile, trudged along the muddy banks of the Blanco River in central Texas, searching for the missing. A soggy teddy bear caught in a tree provided a stark reminder that children were among them. The volunteers, led by Toby Baker, marked where the bear was found. Baker had come as a childhood friend of one of the missing.

"I've got a young family," he said. "I'd like to think someone would come out and do the same for us."

The Colorado River in Wharton and the Brazos and San Jacinto rivers near Houston were the main focus of concern as floodwaters moved downstream toward the Gulf of Mexico. The mayor of Wharton, a city 60 miles south-west of Houston, ordered the evacuation of homes along the Colorado River, which was expected to crest today.

The greater Dallas area was also one of the hardest hit. Firefighters in the suburb of Mesquite recovered the body of a man who drowned in his truck after it was swept into a culvert. Houston-area authorities found the bodies of two other men.

The body of 87-year-old Jack Alter, who was swept away when a boat attempting to rescue him from a bayou overturned, was found in the Houston Ship Channel. Another man's body was found on a south-east Texas beach.

A storm system last weekend that prompted the initial flooding also killed 14 people in northern Mexico when a twister hit the border town of Ciudad Acuna.

The rain seeped into homes and stranded hundreds of drivers on roads that were nearly gridlocked from the high water and abandoned vehicles.

Floodwaters were already creeping into the areas of Kingwood near the swollen San Jacinto River.

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