Hays County Official Says ‘Wall of Water Destroyed Everything In Its Path’

Vehicles left stranded on a flooded Interstate 45 in Houston on Tuesday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Aaron Sprecher, AFP/Getty Images)
Vehicles left stranded on a flooded Interstate 45 in Houston on Tuesday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Aaron Sprecher, AFP/Getty Images)

Residents and officials faced an unprecedented wall of water during flash floods that crushed homes and swept away families over the weekend in Central Texas.

Rescue crews on Tuesday continued searching the length of the Blanco River for 13 people who remained missing, including a family of eight vacationing in a single home washed away, authorities said. There have been two confirmed deaths.

A record surge 44 feet high sped down the Blanco River late Sunday, demolishing homes and businesses, Hays County Commissioner Will Conley said. The previous record on the river was 32 feet, recorded in 1926.

“It was literally a large wall of water that came down the Blanco River and destroyed everything in its path,” he said.

San Marcos city spokeswoman Kristi Wyatt said Tuesday afternoon that 30 people who were listed as missing had been accounted for in Hays County, about 35 miles southwest of Austin.

Emergency officials began sending out alerts to residents warning of the rapidly rising river at 6:30 pm Sunday, as the river rose 12 to 14 feet in 30 minutes, said Kharley Smith, the emergency management coordinator.

As the situation worsen, deputies went door to door to warn residents. The river grew at 223 cubic feet per second — the fastest rate ever recorded, she said.

At some point in the evening, the river gauge washed away.

Around 70 homes in Hays County were completely destroyed and 1,400 had some type of damage, county spokeswoman Laureen Chernow said. Several hundred have been displaced, she said.

The Wimberly area should get a few days of decent weather. But a low pressure system hovering over Texas could bring more torrential downpours to the area by the end of the week, potentially leading to more floods, Hays County Judge Bert Cobb said.

“This is not over,” he said.

In Houston, almost another foot of rain fell Tuesday. High water and flooding made many of the region’s roads impassable, prompting many officials to urge residents to stay home.

The fourth-largest city in the USA suffered some of its worst flooding in years as much of the city and its freeway system were under water.

Torrential rains sent Houston bayous out of their banks overnight, flooding hundreds of homes and stranding thousands of drivers. Houston firefighters reported they were called to more than 500 water-related rescues.

Mayor Annise Parker said as many as 4,000 properties may have suffered “significant damage.”

The dead Tuesday were in the Houston area. Two victims were found in cars in Houston, and two more were pulled from Brays Bayou, a watershed in southwest Harris County and portions of Fort Bend County.

In a tweet to USA TODAY, Titus Chow, who lives on Bays Bayou, took a photo of a helicopter circling to pull a body from the bayou. Chow said the photo was taken near the University of Houston.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: USA Today, Rick Jervis

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