Texas spared destruction from Hurricane Patricia’s remnants

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hurricane Flooding May Cost Texas Billions.

AUSTIN, TEXAS—Drenching storms that the remnants of Hurricane Patricia dragged into Texas finally cleared Sunday without leaving behind the death or devastation of torrential rain and floods that hit the state earlier in the year. Damage from Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever measured in the Western Hemisphere, may cost the U.S. billions from floods, even after the storm spared the largest cities in Mexico.

Flooding in Texas may lead to more than $3 billion in losses, though it’s too early to project the extent of damages, according to Chuck Watson, director of research and development at Kinetic Analysis Corp. But relentless showers were gratefully the only comparison to Memorial Day storms that killed more than 30 people in Texas and Oklahoma and stranded 2,500 cars around Houston. Most of the costs in Texas will be for infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and the U.S. government may cover many of the expenses through the National Flood Insurance Program, Watson said. One man who had been missing in San Antonio after authorities said he was swept into a flooded drainage ditch was found alive and was being treated at a hospital, fire department Chief Charles Hood said. “We’re going to stand down the emergency management operations and call it a day,” said Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, who had issued a voluntary evacuation covering roughly 4,000 homes.

Homeowners and commercial businesses including malls and industrial companies are likely to suffer damages, said Erik Nikodem, president of property in the Americas at American International Group Inc. “Mexico just had an incredible piece of luck,” Watson said. “It was remarkable” that the hurricane’s eye bisected the coastline between the resort town of Puerto Vallarta and the major port of Manzanillo, sparing both. “If the storm was 20 to 30 miles (32 to 48 kilometers) one way or another it would be catastrophic for either of those two cities.” In Mexico, about $500 million of the losses may be insured, Watson said. A deluge in late May overwhelmed saturated areas and caused deadly flooding, and nine inches of rain dumped in parts of Houston this weekend was the most since those spring storms. “We had much drier grounds that could handle more of the rainfall and soak it in,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Overpeck said. “We had drought conditions we were dealing with.” Lessons learned from the May floods also seemed to keep more drivers out of danger, authorities said. Only roughly two dozen cars were towed from flooded roads in Houston and emergency crews responded to only a handful of rescues, said Francisco Sanchez, a spokesman for Harris County’s emergency management division. Electricity has been restored to 88 percent of about 262,000 customers who lost power due to the storm, the state-owned electricity provider said Sunday. Clearing skies also allowed a Formula One championship in Austin to proceed after the rain washed out weekend qualifying laps and threatened a race that brings fans from around the globe.

On Saturday, a Union Pacific freight train derailed before dawn Saturday near Corsicana, about 50 miles south of Dallas, because a creek overflowed and washed away the tracks, said Jeff DeGraff, a railroad spokesman.

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