Flash floods in Texas and Oklahoma have created a disaster situation that Texas governor Greg Abbott likens to a tsunami. On Monday, Abbott declared a state of emergency in 37 Texas counties as the weather service issued warnings that the floods may not be over. The peak of the floods occurred Monday afternoon, when over 20 high-water rescues were performed as emergency services personnel fanned out across the area south of Austin, where the worst of the floods occurred. The storm that caused the torrential rains then traveled eastward toward Houston, where the damage continued.
Tuesday morning reports indicate that this storm and the resulting floods and tornadoes have killed 19 people: four in Oklahoma, two in Texas, and another thirteen dead in Mexico after a tornado that sprang forth from the same weather system. Other possible victims are unaccounted for along the storm’s path. One of the victims in Texas was an 18-year-old girl whose car was swept off the roadway by a massive water wall as she traveled home from her senior prom. This morning, Tuesday, search and rescue crews are looking for 12 people near Wimberley who have been missing since their vacation home broke free from its foundation and floated downstream, crashing into a bridge.
As of late Monday, the National Weather Service still had a flash flood warning in effect for the Houston area, where local utilities were reporting more than 60,000 area residents without power. Houston received over 10 inches of rain within a 24-hour period, creating a nightmare situation, making roads impassable and trapping people in their homes. The Texas Department of Transportation tweeted a message to urge people to remain in safe areas. “Trust us,” the DOT said along with a picture of clogged roads. “You do not want to get in the middle of this.”
The storm system is now headed toward Louisiana and Mississippi.