More Rain, Flooding Could Hamper Texas Search Effort

18 dead in recent Texas storms

NBC 5 News

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A crop of thunderstorms has developed over the Plains states, including Texas, threatening to bring torrential rainfall, hail, thunderstorms and tornadoes across parts of the region Friday, the National Weather Service said.

Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise as search teams dig through debris piles along rivers that raged through Central Texas and the Houston area. Bodies found in Hays and Blanco counties raised the death toll to at least 25, with 18 in Texas alone, and at least 14 more still missing.

"It's a miracle to me that there wasn't a larger death toll," Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Many cities were still in danger of flooding as heavy rain from earlier in the week poured downstream towards the Gulf of Mexico, pushing rivers over their banks, while the possibility of an additional one to three inches over the next 48 hours looms.

The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for all of North Texas through Saturday morning. See the latest weather alerts here.

NBC 5 meteorologists expect chances of rainfall in North Texas to be 70 percent on Friday and Saturday; chances drop to 20 percent on Sunday and rain is out of the forecast Monday through Wednesday. 

North Texas will be under a Flash Flood Watch from 6 p.m. Thursday until noon Saturday as more storms are expected to develop overnight.

Thunderstorms are likely to persist throughout the weekend elsewhere in the state, with a 50 percent chance in the Houston, San Antonio and Austin areas.

This week's record rainfall in Texas eased the state's drought and swelled rivers and lakes to the point that they may not return to normal levels until July, scientists said Thursday.

Just weeks ago, much of the state was parched with varying levels of drought. But the same drenching rainfall that paralyzed parts of Houston and swept away a vacation home with eight people inside also offered relief from a long dry spell.

Search Dogs Aiding Efforts After Texas Floods Need Care

Veterinarians are on hand to care for the dogs that are helping search teams look for those missing from the Memorial Day weekend floods in Central Texas.

Eight dogs are helping scour dense woods and the debris and destruction left behind by the Blanco River in Wimberley. Medical teams are present to tend to the humans' injuries, and veterinarians are caring for dogs injured along the way.

Texas Task Force One spokesman Will Welch says the dogs are indispensable for covering vast amounts of ground quickly and effectively.

But Dr. Deb Zoran of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team says the dogs will cross dangerous surfaces, dehydrating and injuring their feet, without paying any attention. So the dogs get their paws wrapped with duct tape to offer some protection.

Residents Near Brazos River in Parker County Asked to Evacuate

Water from the swollen Brazos River has crested and is lapping at the foundations of 11 homes in Horseshoe Bend.

Parker County Emergency Management spokesman Joel Kertok said officials are monitoring the situation Thursday and will know more as the day progresses.


He said the river eclipsed the 21-foot flood level Thursday and is expected to crest at 24.1 feet Thursday night.

Residents were asked to evacuate about 250 homes on Wednesday, and Kertok said he believes most people decided to leave.

He says residents in the area west of Fort Worth were told to stay away for at least two or three days.

In Eastland County, just southwest of Parker County, about 20 homes along Lake Leon were flooded Wednesday. Residents of about 100 to 150 homes were asked to leave.

Wharton Residents Asked to Evacuate

Authorities are asking those who live in about 300 homes in the small southeastern Texas city of Wharton to leave due to the risk of flooding.

Wharton emergency management coordinator Steve Johnson said the Colorado River should crest in the city at about 45.5 feet on Friday night or early Saturday.

Paula Favors, a spokeswoman for the city about 60 miles southwest of Houston, says the river was at about 38 feet Thursday morning, a foot below the flood level. She said it spills into low-lying areas at about 43 feet.

Residents of the most at-risk homes haven't been ordered to leave, but they are being asked to do so.

Mayor Domingo Montalvo Jr. says more than 60 percent of Wharton's roughly 9,000 residents live in a flood plain.

Arkansas Closes Highway on Texas Border

Arkansas transportation officials have indefinitely closed a section of highway near its border with Texas due to flooding along the Red River.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department shut down the section of State Highway 41 early Thursday. Officials said it will remain closed until the water recedes and engineers can assess the damage.

Senior Meteorologist Jason Hansford with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, Louisiana, said up to an inch of rain could fall in southwest Arkansas on Thursday. He said the area has received 5 to 10 inches of rain this month, which is above average.

Up to 2 more inches are possible this weekend and the weather service warns that additional flooding is possible along the Red River.

NWS Warns of More Flooding in Oklahoma

The National Weather Service is warning of new flooding across much of Oklahoma, where creeks, rivers and lakes remain swollen from spring showers.

Meteorologist Michael Scotten, in Norman, says two bouts of bad weather should hit the state Thursday. Morning rainfall will likely dwindle before noon, but a system moving in after 2 p.m. could spawn thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes.

A hiring event Thursday at Dallas’ Fair Park is geared toward those who are just beginning the professional portion of their lives – young people aged 16 to 24. The Dallas 100K Opportunities Initiative Fair & Forum will take over the Embarcadero Building from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Some parts of the state could see as much as 3 inches of rain. The greatest threat for severe weather Thursday afternoon is in western Oklahoma, where tennis ball sized hail and tornadoes are possible.

The service has issued a flood advisory for central Oklahoma and a flash flood watch for most of the state. Oklahoma City is in its wettest month ever recorded with 19.5 inches of rain.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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