2 dead as severe flooding swamps South-Central Texas; multiple tornadoes reported

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2 dead, others missing as severe storms ravage parts of Texas.

Another round of storms and strong winds was moving east across Texas on Saturday, and two people were missing from earlier flash floods in the Austin area.At least two people are dead and another two are missing after storms thundered through parts of Texas Friday, dumping more than a foot of rain on some areas and causing flash floods that trapped school buses and other vehicles, officials said.BUDA, Texas — Punishing storms and suspected tornadoes Friday socked an already sodden swath of Texas that was still drying out from the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, forcing evacuations and shutting down a gridlocked 10-mile stretch of interstate. Another body was found at Joint Base San Antonio Camp Bullis in Bexar County after a driver was swept away in flood waters on Camp Bullis Road at around 6:15 a.m., base spokesman Oscar Balladares said.

The body of one man swept away by raging waters when his vehicle was caught southeast of Austin has been recovered, a Travis County emergency official said, adding one elderly woman was still missing. More than 16 inches of rain soaked one neighborhood, and Austin Bergstrom International Airport suspended all flights after a half-foot of water flooded the air traffic control tower. A lazy creek cutting through Texas wine country swelled into a rushing torrent, sending eight members of a vacationing church group scrambling to a second floor and awaiting rescue from the National Guard. In the San Antonio area, four special needs students and two adults were rescued from a bus that became trapped in floodwaters just after 7 a.m., the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said.

Abandoned cars, many submerged in water, littered backroads that weary drivers risked after heavy downpours flooded Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin. The Austin Fire Department responded to about 500 calls for help while some residents in the nearby city of San Marcos were told to boil water for safety. Hays County issued evacuation orders and set up shelters for hundreds along the Blanco and San Marcos rivers, two waterways hard hit by the May floods.

In Floresville, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, a high school wall was ripped apart by high winds that also tossed a recreational vehicle trailer onto the roof of a hotel, TV video from the area showed. The river later subsided. “We didn’t know where we were going, it was dark — the water was rising so fast,” Kathleen Haney, who was trapped at a bed and breakfast near Wimberley, said. A possible tornado was reported in Hays County on Friday afternoon, and authorities in other towns said they had spotted twisters and the damaging effects of high winds.

Forecasters say an upper-level disturbance from Mexico carried the storms into Texas as a strong El Nino is expected to make for a wet winter in the U.S. The Blanco River – which produced massive flooding in surrounding towns earlier this year when it overflowed in May – swelled up to about 26 feet in Wimberley, nearly twice the flood stage.

Ruth Veliz, whose parents own a taco shop in town, said one of her employees yelled “Tornado!” and tried to keep the winds from blowing inside before a customer pulled her to safety. The flooded portion of Interstate 35 was reopened later Friday, but not before southbound drivers turned against traffic and tried driving north along the shoulder.

Winds peeled off roofs elsewhere and collapsed a historic 19th-century building in the small town of D’Hanis, one of three cities where suspected tornadoes touched down.

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