Tornadoes cause destruction, flooding continues in Texas; 3 dead, 2 missing
Another round of storms and strong winds was moving east across Texas on Saturday, and two people were missing from earlier flash floods in the Austin area. At least three people have been reported dead as of Friday due to flood waters in central Texas. The body of a man swept away around Austin was found Saturday, but another remains missing
Tornadoes were reported south and east of Houston on Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service. There were reports of overturned mobile homes and possible injuries. Power outages in the Houston area topped 25,000.
Francisco Sanchez of the Harris County Office of Emergency Management said 4-7 inches of rain has fallen since Friday night and more was expected. He said many locations had high water and more than two dozen water rescues had taken place.
In response to the flooding and tornado threat, the city of Houston activated its emergency operations center Saturday morning.
See more of the damage from the floods:
Two people have died in the flood emergency. Roger Wade, Travis County public information officer, said a man in his 40s or 50s was found after he was swept away by floodwaters in Travis County. Eyewitnesses told authorities they were attempting to reach the man on the roof of his car when he was swept away, KVUE reports. The man has not been identified, pending notification of relatives.
The second death was confirmed Friday night after the victim's body washed up in Camp Bullis, a U.S. Army training camp, around 6:15 a.m. 502nd Air Base Wing chief of public affairs for Joint Base San Antonio Oscar Balladares said the individual was a contract exmployee whose vehicle was washed down stream. An identity has yet to be released.
Saturday morning, the third death was confirmed when officials found the body of a man whose vehicle was swept away Friday southeast of Austin, reports AP.
According to KVUE, crews are also looking for a 37-year-old man who was swept off the top of his car in the area of SH 130 and FM 812. Two other people were in the car, but they were rescued.
An elderly woman went missing near Citation and Ruidosa in Southeast Travis County. The woman and her husband were being rescued from a home at the time. Crews were able to get her husband to safety. He was taken to an area hospital.
South-Central Texas: Homes, Roads Collapse; State of Disaster Declared
The Houston Fire Department responded to around 90 water rescues early Saturday morning as the city saw around five inches of rain in a matter of a few hours. The worst of the flooding was reported in the southwest and southeast parts of town, with the Westbury area receiving nearly six inches of rain.
Storms have caused trouble with traveling in Houston, as heavy rains and flooding have washed out roads and halted some public transit, reports AP. Saturday, the city's nearly 23-mile light rail system suspended service because of the rainfall. Emergency management officials say high water also affected public bus routes and swamped major highways.
Until Saturday afternoon, a flash flood watch is active for areas close to Houston, Galveston, Bryan, College Station, Tyler and Texarkana until Saturday.
At 11:11 a.m. CDT, flash flooding was reported in much of Hardin County, according to the National Weather Service. Currently water rescues are ongoing near Silsbee, Texas. Eight to 16 inches of rain have fallen in the area.
States of disaster were declared for Bastrop and Luling county Friday, the Austin Statesman reported.
A separate flood emergency was issued in South Austin, in areas near Onion Creek in Travis County. For those looking for a place to take shelter in the Onion Creek area, Dittmar Recreation Center was made available.
Near Driftwood, Onion Creek quickly rose to a new record level. Before noon Friday, water levels at that part of the creek were already above the previous record of 25.1 feet, and the waterway was expected to continue its rise.
Multiple water rescues were conducted elsewhere in Austin and Travis counties, including the rescue of two police officers caught in rushing floodwaters, as well as that of Ed Asapi, who clung to an 18-wheeler until rescuers reached him.
"We just thought like this is it. That's the end of our journey today. But then they got us, they got through," Asapi told KVUE.
Multiple people were rescued from floodwaters in Travis County earlier Friday morning.
The Austin County Emergency Management Service reported Friday afternoon that multiple residents in the Man-O-War/Maha Loop/Quicksilver area were stranded on their rooftops and rescues were underway. Austin ResQ Medics escorted a medical patient across a flooded roadway to a waiting ambulance and made at least one water rescue later Friday.
Among those rescued earlier in the day was a church group from Dallas, stuck at a Wimberley bed-and-breakfast when a nearby creek overflowed and trapped them. Kathleen Haney told the Associated Press she and seven others from the Dallas group were saved by members of the National Guard when they strung a rope between the staircase and higher ground, and they were then brought to safety.
The flooding was so strong that it swept away three of their cars and snapped several trees, she told the AP.
A trailer from an RV park was tossed onto the roof of a three-story Holiday Inn, and abandoned cars, many submerged in water, littered back roads. Despite the risk, many drivers attempted to take these streets after heavy downpours inundated Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin, one of the busiest roadways in the U.S.
Utilities in East Texas said that 44,000 customers were without power.
Heavy rains in Elgin undercut Ann Flowers Drive causing a section of the road to collapse Friday afternoon.
Flooding forced San Marcos city officials to close an evacuation center at the San Marcos Activity Center Friday afternoon. Citizens who were waiting out the flood at the Activity Center were bussed to a new evacuation center at Miller Middle School.
In Austin, boats were deployed by the Austin Fire Department to help with water rescues. Passenger vehicles were nearly submerged by floodwaters near the interchange linking U.S. Highway 183 and State Route 71 near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport late Friday morning.
More than 40 flights were canceled by the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Saturday after the control tower became flooded. The area received more than 16 inches of rain Friday.
Many of the small creeks that run through the city of Austin were raging torrents Friday morning, with some near or above flood stage.
Areas near the Blanco River were also evacuated Friday, and the bridge over the river at RR 12 in Wimberley was closed.
In eastern Bexar County, a school bus with children inside got stuck in high water, and crews were able to successfully remove everyone inside, the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said via Twitter.
New Braunfels officials warned residents to take flooding seriously and get to safety. A civil emergency message was issued for Comal County, warning residents that river flooding along the Comal and Guadalupe rivers was imminent, and residents in low-lying areas should evacuate to Canyon High School.
Reported Tornadoes Leave Damage
The National Weather Service reports that tornadoes caused damage to three communities in the Houston area. A radar-confirmed tornado damaged between 10 and 30 homes around 7 a.m. in an eastern Harris County subdivision, according to the Associated Press.
In Friendswood, a Houston suburb, one home had a collapsed roof from a tornado that hit around 5:30 a.m. Officials say no one was injured and the home's residents were away at that time. Around 30 other homes had minor damage.
Officials reported that about 25 trailer homes were damaged and two people were injured when a radar-confirmed tornado whorled through Alvin, located 30 miles south of Houston.
The towns of D'Hanis and Floresville took a hard hit from suspected tornadoes early Friday. There were also reports of damage near San Marcos as the severe weather pushed northeast. Bluebonnet Electric tweeted photos of a mangled transmission tower near San Marcos Friday afternoon.
NWS meteorologist Jason Runyen said businesses have been damaged in downtown D'Hanis and that trees are also down. Medina County authorities told NBC San Antonio that a bank was destroyed and other buildings were damaged, but they were unsure if there were any injuries.
The Wilson County Sheriff's Office told The Weather Channel that Floresville High School was damaged. No injuries have been reported from either of the suspected tornadoes.
When the suspected tornado hit Floresville at about 6 a.m. local time, Ruth Veliz was at her parents' taco shop with about a dozen customers and employees. She told the AP an employee exclaimed "Tornado!" and attempted to close the door as strong winds bore down on the building.
Those inside the shop took cover anywhere they could and rode out the storm. "We were all caught off guard, everyone just grabbed on to what they could get their hands on," Veliz told the AP.
Floresville ISD said on its Facebook page that schools will be closed Friday.
Some homes and other structures between Seguin and Zorn lost roofs during the storms, Guadalupe County Sheriff's Capt. Tom Meeley told the Associated Press.
The National Weather Service says around 5 a.m. Saturday strong winds struck Brazoria County. A tornado watch went into effect, for Brazoria, Galveston, Jefferson, Orange, Chambers, Hardin, Liberty, Wharton, Fort Bend, Harris and Matagorda.
Lightning Strike in Brownsville
The National Weather Service office in Brownsville took a direct lightning strike on it's radar assembly Friday evening as storms continued to roll through the area.
(WATCH: Lightning Strikes Radar Assembly)
More than a half-foot of rainfall has been observed in parts of Brownsville on Friday, creating widespread travel problems.Several streets were closed, according to the Brownsville Herald, and power outages also knocked out many traffic lights in the city.
Hundreds of homes in Brownsville lost power during the storms, and thousands more were in the dark in the suburbs, the report added. All Halloween events scheduled Friday night by the Brownsville Police Department have been canceled, the Herald also said.
NWS Brownsville reported that high winds blew the windows out of several cars and tore the roof of a mobile home several miles north of Willamar, Texas, Friday morning.
More Storms on the Way
Severe weather is expected to continue in the Southern Plains throughout the weekend.
"The threats are two-fold. First, warm and very humid air coupled with an approaching southward dip in the jet stream will spawn severe thunderstorms, some of which may spawn tornadoes, in Texas and the Deep South through Saturday," said weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. "Secondly, areas of slow-moving, heavy rain will trigger flash flooding in Texas and Oklahoma through early Saturday, then spread into the Lower Mississippi Valley and Deep South later Saturday. This flood threat includes San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston."