Many Texans Brave Flood to Bar Looters
Floodwaters gushed from a rain-swollen lake into the Trinity River in Texas at a record rate Thursday, but despite warnings to evacuate many residents downstream stayed home to guard against looters, authorities said.
Floodwaters from Lake Livingston, about 75 miles northeast of Houston, are expected to inundate more than 200 square miles along the Trinity.
At the dam, operators increased the flow through a dozen floodgates to a record 100,800 cubic feet per second by midday Thursday.
Thirty-three counties in Texas have been declared eligible for disaster aid.
In Oklahoma, Gov. Henry Bellmon dispatched the National Guard to help get feed to stranded cattle. Floods along the Red and Arkansas rivers have prompted Bellmon to request disaster aid for 36 of the state’s 77 counties.
In Missouri, Gov. John Ashcroft declared Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, a disaster area and promised to seek federal assistance.
Officials in St. Louis, meanwhile, prepared for floods from the Mississippi River expected to hit by Saturday. City workers began piling up sandbags and setting up floodgates near the city’s trademark arch along the Mississippi as the river continued rising.
The Mississippi was 29 feet deep Thursday, and was expected to crest at 34 feet Saturday, 4 feet above flood stage.
“We don’t expect any damage at all. There will be a lot of mud and it won’t be pretty, but nothing should be hurt,” said Jim Suelman, director of St. Louis’ street department.
Missouri’s other major river, the Missouri, was already 10 feet above its 21-foot flood stage Thursday at Hermann, where the river was at 31.7 feet. It was expected to crest at 33.5 feet today.
In northwestern Louisiana, about 200 square miles, most of it sparsely settled farmland, was under water from the Red River and backwaters.
In southern Mississippi, about 34 people spent Wednesday night at a shelter set up at an elementary school in Beaumont, said Red Cross volunteer Clay Keys. Evacuees said water in homes was four to five feet deep.
Besides the flooding, tornadoes continued to plague the nation’s midsection.
One woman was killed and her husband injured when their home in McDougal in northeastern Arkansas collapsed in a tornado Wednesday night. At least two other people were injured and about a dozen homes were destroyed. High winds were accompanied by driving rain and flash floods in some areas.
At least one death was reported in Folsomville, Ind., as the storm moved east. A 61-year-old woman died of head injuries when a tree toppled by 50-m.p.h. winds fell onto a mobile home.