Death toll rises to 3 in Texas flooding; at least 12 missing

The death toll in Texas flooding reaches three, and at least 12 people are missing

The death toll after recent heavy rains in Texas reached three on Monday, and at least 12 others were missing after floodwaters tore through central Texas, an area that has been devastated by a series of storms, authorities said.

The 12 missing had been staying in a home that was swept away Sunday by the rushing water of the Blanco River in Wimberley Valley, an area known for its weekend rental cottages and bed-and-breakfasts. Witnesses reported seeing the house pushed off its foundation and into the river, where it soon smashed into a bridge. Only pieces of the home have been found, a county judge said.

One of those killed was 14-year-old Damien Blade, whose body was found in a suburban Dallas storm drain near his home after his family had reported him missing the night before. Investigators say Damien and his dog, also in the drain, had apparently drowned. The investigation was ongoing.

Authorities have said at least one other person was killed in flooding Sunday, and a high school senior died Saturday night after her car was caught in high water.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott toured the devastated region by air Monday and said the damage caused by the flash flooding was “absolutely devastating.”

The rain-swollen Blanco River sent floodwaters across a vast area, damaging or destroying hundreds of homes, including those in the small town of Wimberley, about 35 miles southwest of Austin.

At a news conference, Abbott said the damage he saw was “absolutely massive” from the storms’ “relentless tsunami-type power.” He emphasized that communities downstream needed to monitor flood levels and take seriously the threat of the continuing storms.

The governor added 24 counties to his state disaster declaration, bringing the total to 37 counties, mostly in the east. That allows for further mobilization of state resources to assist communities affected by the disaster.

In Wimberley, cars and trucks were lined up for a quarter-mile waiting to get back into town as police worked to open a bridge over the Blanco River.

Dana Campbell lives on a bluff above the river. The 69-year-old retired engineer said Monday that the damage left behind by the floodwaters looked like the swath of a tornado.

Meanwhile, on a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., beach, a waterspout uprooted an inflatable bounce house with three children inside Monday. A police spokesman said the children apparently fell out of the bounce house before the waterspout sent it flying above palm trees, across a parking lot and over four lanes of traffic.

All three children were injured but were alert and conscious when they were taken to a hospital, Ft. Lauderdale police spokesman Keven Dupree said.

Video on local television showed the waterspout — a whirling column of air and water mist — moving from the ocean onto the beach, tossing a canopy and rolling the bounce house before lifting it into the air. The house flew above the tree line, but the children appeared to have fallen out when it first flipped over on the beach, Dupree said.

“They were immediately dropped out of the bounce house onto the sand,” he said.

The bounce house had been secured to a basketball court as part of a city-sponsored family activity zone set up for the Memorial Day holiday.

In Oklahoma, more severe weather was forecast for this week. A number of rivers will remain above flood stage for several days, according to the National Weather Service. A state of emergency remains in effect for 44 Oklahoma counties after a line of storms, tornadoes and high winds ripped across the state over the last few weeks.

 

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

8:20 p.m.: The story was updated throughout with new information.

The story was originally published at 4:28 p.m.

 

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