Rain Adds to Flood Woes; Thousands Forced to Flee : Emergency: High water causes millions in damage and strands or drowns numerous cattle. Tornadoes are also reported in parts of Texas.
A wide band of thunderstorms and showers dumped up to 2 inches of rain Saturday on waterlogged Arkansas and Texas as the swollen Trinity and Red rivers raged southward and threatened to drive more people out of their homes.
The National Weather Service reported that tornadoes touched down Saturday morning near Lufkin and southwest of San Augustine in Texas.
The rain threatened to worsen flooding that has forced thousands of families from their homes near the Arkansas, Red and Trinity rivers in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, drowned or stranded thousands of cattle and caused millions of dollars in damage.
“Things are kind of tense here,” said Lisa Berry of the Arkansas Emergency Management Office, who is working with authorities across the state line in Texarkana, Tex., which is near the Red River.
Officials in southeast Texas said they were ready for the anticipated weekend arrival of high water from the Trinity River as the flood crest approached Lake Livingston, about 50 miles north of Baytown where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
Liberty County Emergency Management Director Jim Mitchum said most of the 7,000 people living in threatened areas around Lake Livingston Dam have already moved in with friends or relatives.
“The flooding will be very devastating to people living in the low-lying river areas,” Mitchum said.
Billy Evans, Sabine Parish sheriff’s dispatcher in Many, La., about 50 miles south of Shreveport, said: “We’ve got funnel clouds spotted on radar all around us. But we’ve not had any reports of damage so far. What we’ve got is a line of thunderstorms coming out of Texas. So far it’s just a lot of rain.”
National Guardsmen and civilian volunteers patrolled saturated levees on the Red River along the Texas-Arkansas border, officials said.
“The levees are barely holding their own along the river,” Berry said.
A Texas National Guard helicopter was dropping hay to flood-marooned livestock along the Red River near Fulton, Ark. As many as 20,000 head of cattle were stranded in Little River and Miller counties.
The Red River was expected to crest Tuesday at Shreveport at 35 feet, 5 feet above flood stage. That would be the highest crest for the river at Shreveport since 1945, when it reached 38.5 feet.
Flooding from the Red River was expected on the north and south sides of Shreveport, prompting about 20 residents to leave their homes. Caddo Parish sheriff’s deputies advised people to be out of their homes by Saturday because of the danger posed by the swollen and increasingly rapid river.
“It’s aggravating as hell to go through something like this,” said one resident, Alida Chance. “All these years you live here with no problems, and all of a sudden your life is interrupted. You’ve got to pack up or risk losing everything you’ve got.”