Texas Governor Greg Abbott compared the ferocity of flash flooding that has already took lives of at least three people to a tsunami, and authorities said a dam had given way in a state park.
The governor declared states of disaster in 24 counties and arrived at the south area of Austin to see the damage caused by tornadoes, heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and flooding that triggered evacuations and rooftop rescues and left thousands of residents without electricity.
“This is the biggest flood this area of Texas has ever seen,” Abbott said.
“It is absolutely massive – the relentless tsunami-type power of this wave of water,” he added.
Abbot went on, saying that homes were “completely wiped off the map” by the dangerous weather system that struck Texas and Oklahoma.
Rescue workers searched on Tuesday for 12 people who went missing after torrential rains that hit two states during the Memorial Day weekend.
“More bad weather was expected with the National Weather Service issuing a flash flood warning on Tuesday morning for Houston, the nation’s fourth most-populous city, as a line of thunderstorms moved along the Gulf of Mexico coast from Texas toward Florida,” Reuters reports. “Four people were killed in Texas on Monday and two in Oklahoma, where thunderstorms and tornadoes slammed several parts of the state.”
Rescue workers looked for 12 members of two families who were supposedly swept away in Wimberley, a town about 30 miles southwest of Austin, where flood waters caused a wave of destruction.
“It’s a tremendous clean up operation,” said Wimberley Mayor Steve Thurber. “(People) have lost their homes, they have lost their livelihoods in some businesses.”
In Houston, some school districts were closed and municipal courts suspended cases for Tuesday morning due to the storms that drenched the area, leaving thousands to wait out the rains on Monday night in places such as the Toyota Center arena where the Houston Rockets had a NBA playoff game.
“I don’t think it’s smart for anybody to try to be out on this weather,” Rockets center Dwight Howard, who was among those waiting out the storm with fans, was quoted as saying by the Houston Chronicle.
The National Weather Service reported 4.5 inches (11.5 cm) of rain fell in 90 minutes at Marquette, in central Kansas, washing out roads.
“The bodies of a 14-year-old boy and his dog were found in a storm drain in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto on Monday, police said. Two other people killed in the storm were described as an unidentified man found dead in San Marcos, Texas, and a firefighter who was swept into a storm drain in Oklahoma,” The Huffington Post says.
“The New York Times said a Tulsa, Oklahoma, woman also died on Saturday after her automobile hydroplaned on a highway.”
insisted that more rain was expected into late Monday across the eastern half of Texas and Oklahoma, bringing flash floods, tornadoes and winds of more than 65 miles per hour (105 km per hour).