Official Search For Survivors Ends In Hays County, Recovery Ops Begin Tuesday
[Editor’s Note: Updated at 10:55 p.m. CDT, Monday]
A line of storms stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes dumped record rainfall on parts of Texas, Oklahoma and other Plains and Midwest states over this long and disastrous Memorial Day weekend. Among the worst affected places were the small Texas community of Wimberley and nearby San Marcos in the Central Texas corridor between San Antonio and Austin. Many homes in those communities were damaged or destroyed. Twelve people are still unaccounted for. Here is a recap of the day’s events.
10:30 p.m. CDT
What a sheriff described as a “pretty destructive” tornado has destroyed four homes in Central Texas, killing a man. Milam County Judge Dave Barkemeyer said the storm hit a subdivision just outside of the city of Cameron, which is about 60 miles northeast of Austin. County Sheriff David Greene said the twister damaged 10 to 15 homes in all.
Barkemeyer said the man died when his mobile home was destroyed about 4 p.m. Monday. Four other people were injured. No identities have been released. That brings to four the number of people killed in Texas since Friday by the storms that damaged many parts of the state.
9:30 p.m. CDT
Teams have ended their search for survivors of a flash flood that scoured the Blanco River Valley in Texas, destroying hundreds of homes. Trey Hatt, spokesman for the Hays County Emergency Operations Center, said that teams halted their search for survivors at nightfall Monday. He said, “the search component is over,” meaning that no more survivors are expected to be found in the flood debris. Hatt said recovery operations would begin Tuesday.
One person has been found dead in Wimberley, about 35 miles southwest of Austin. Twelve people are missing from a house that washed down the Blanco and smashed into a bridge in the center of the community.
7 p.m. CDT
The death toll after recent heavy rains in Texas has reached three after a 14-year-old boy and his dog were found dead in a suburban Dallas storm drain.
DeSoto police reported that an officer assisted by a search dog found the bodies of Damien Blade and his dog Monday in a storm drain near Blade’s home. Investigators said both apparently had drowned but their investigation continues.
A police statement said that Damien’s family had reported him missing about 10 p.m. Sunday, after one of his two dogs showed up alone at the house, wet and extremely muddy. The family said Damien was last seen with his two dogs about 4 p.m. that afternoon, and that he enjoyed exploring the culverts and storm drains of his neighborhood.
Alyssa Ramirez, from Devine, about 35 miles south of San Antonio, died after her car was caught in high water. Ramirez, 18, a Devine High School senior, and homecoming queen, was driving back from her prom late Saturday night and got stuck. She called 911 and her father but was swept away before help could arrive. She body was found Sunday, still in her prom dress. At least one other person was also killed in flooding on Sunday.
5:45 p.m. CDT
All that’s left of a Texas house swept up by the flooded Blanco River, leaving 12 occupants missing, is a set of stilts and part of its frame.
A TV antenna and a satellite dish dangled Monday from a tree above where the home once stood in Wimberley, a small town about 35 miles southwest of Austin.
The two-story house sat about 50 feet from the normal riverbank and about 20 feet above it, closer than any of the houses further up a slope.
Carissa Smith owns property next to the home. She told AP that her mother, who lives on the property, described the sound of “firecrackers” during the flooding but said she couldn’t see anything in the dark and torrential rain.
The raging Blanco River swept the house about a mile downstream and smashed it into the Ranch Road 12 bridge.
5:15 p.m. CDT
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto planned to travel to Ciudad Acuna on Monday evening to see the tornado damage and help with the city’s recovery.
Pena Nieto announced the plans during a state visit from the president of Finland. He was to make the trip with officials from pertinent government agencies.
The president instructed civil-protection officials to send resources to the state.
4 p.m. CDT
Authorities say the 12 people reported missing after flash-flooding in Central Texas were staying together in a home swept away by the rushing water in a small town popular with tourists.
Hays County Judge Bert Cobb said witnesses reported seeing the house pushed off its foundation by the swollen Blanco River and smash into a bridge.
Cobb said only pieces of the home have been found so far. He said main flooding activity happened around 4 a.m. Monday. Cobb said one person rescued from the home told workers about the other people inside, saying the 12 were all connected to two families.
The house was in Wimberley Valley, an area known for its bed-and-breakfast inns and rental weekend cottages. Cobb says the owners of the destroyed house didn’t know who was staying there.
Authorities have confirmed one death from the flooding. Cobb said it was unclear if the person who died was in the home swept away by the river.
3 p.m. CDT
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the damage caused by flash flooding in Central Texas was “absolutely devastating.”
The governor flew over parts of the Blanco River on Monday, a day after heavy rains pushed the river out of its banks and into surrounding homes in Wimberley. At a news conference, Abbott said the damage he saw was “absolutely massive” from the storms’ “relentless tsunami-type power.” He stressed that communities downstream needed to monitor flood levels and take seriously the threat of the ongoing storms.
Abbott didn’t offer updates on the dead or missing following the powerful storms sweeping through parts of Texas and northern Mexico. In Texas, at least one person has died and 12 are missing; in Mexico, a tornado Monday killed more than a dozen people.
But the governor did add 24 counties to his state disaster declaration, bringing the total to 37 counties in mostly the eastern half of the state. That allows for further mobilization of state resources to assist disaster-struck communities.
1:30 p.m. CDT
The death toll from the tornado in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Acuna has risen to 13. Coahuila state spokeswoman Rosario Cano said the number of dead rose with the discovery of more bodies.
The head of Mexico’s national civil defense agency, Luis Felipe Puente, told local media that 230 people had been injured and that shelters are being set up.
The twister hit shortly after daybreak on Monday. It destroyed homes, upended cars and ripped an infant in a baby carrier from its mother’s arms. The child is missing. Ciudad Acuna is a city of about 100,000 across the border from Del Rio, Texas.
12:30 p.m. CDT
Cars and trucks are lined up for a quarter-mile waiting to get back into a small Central Texas town that was heavily damaged by flash flooding.
Residents were waiting Monday for police to open a bridge over the rain-swollen Blanco River into Wimberley, about 35 miles southwest of Austin.
Residents have been waiting to inspect their homes since heavy rains pushed the river out of its banks Sunday and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes.
Dana Campbell lives on a bluff above the river. The 69-year-old retired engineer said Monday that the damage left behind by the floodwaters looks the swath of a tornado, with damage “as far as the eye can see.”
10:45 a.m. CDT
Authorities say a dozen people are missing after flash flooding along the Blanco River in Central Texas that damaged hundreds of homes.
Kristi Wyatt, a spokeswoman for the city of San Marcos, said Monday that 12 people are now missing after the flooding Sunday, when three people were reported missing. Wyatt says she didn't immediately have more information.
Former Nueces County Commissioner Joe McComb says his son's wife and their two children are among the missing. McComb told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that his 36-year-old son, Jonathan, is hospitalized in San Antonio with multiple injuries after a house he was staying at was knocked off its foundation and carried down the raging river Sunday. It struck a bridge and then began breaking up.
The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd says five members of two families from the Corpus Christi church also were in the house and are missing.
10 a.m. CDT
A tornado raged through the northern Mexico border city of Ciudad Acuna early Monday, killing at least 10 people, destroying homes and upending cars and other vehicles. Rosario Cano, spokeswoman for the interior department of the northern state of Coahuila said 10 people had been confirmed killed so far in the twister, which struck around 6:40 a.m. Central time.
Photos from the scene showed cars with their hoods ripped off, resting upended against the facades of one-story houses. One car’s frame was literally bent around the gate of a house. A bus was seen flipped and crumpled on a roadway. Cano said top state officials had set out to review the damage and coordinate response to the disaster.
7:30 a.m. CDT
An evacuation order has been lifted for people living near a reservoir north of Houston after weather improved and work crews made progress shoring up threatened areas along a levee weakened by recent heavy rains.
Montgomery County authorities allowed residents back into their homes in neighborhoods near the Lewis Creek Reservoir late Sunday evening.
County Judge Craig Doyal said he regrets the inconvenience that several hundred residents may have experienced, but he said the decision to order evacuations early Sunday was made based on weather forecasts at the time and in the interest of public safety.
The reservoir serves an Entergy power plant about 50 miles north of Houston. Officials have reported no breaches.