Two dead as torrential rains, tornadoes lash central Texas

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At least 2 dead after Texas pummeled again by heavy storms.

At least two people are dead and another is missing as storms thundered through parts of Texas Friday, dumping more than a foot of rain on some areas and causing 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. 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. The body of a driver who went missing in floodwaters was found in a hard-hit area near the Austin airport, the Travis county emergency management office said. 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.

Abandoned cars, many submerged in water, littered backroads that weary drivers risked after heavy downpours flooded Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin, closing one of the busiest stretch of roadways in the United States. 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. 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. Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown said a tornado touched down in D’Hanis, 50 miles west of San Antonio, destroying a bank and damaging other buildings in the tiny town of about 550 residents, reported NBC affiliate WOAI. Similar conditions in May — soaking storms on the heels of other soaking storms — caused devastating flooding on the Blanco River that swept homes from foundations and killed families that were carried downstream.

The Associated Press reported that emergency services rescued a church group from the second floor of a flooded Wimberley inn by stringing a rope between a staircase and higher ground and guiding the people across. 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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