Flooding Swamps Several Cities

POSTED: 10:50 am CDT June 27, 2007
UPDATED: 12:24 pm CDT June 27, 2007

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Rains have drenched North Texas, creating flooding along creeks and rivers and forcing the evacuation of at least 50 homes in a subdivision near Lake Granbury.

"We're using boats, jet skis, anything else we can float trying to get everybody out," Hood County Judge Andy Rash said late Tuesday.

Some people waited on the roofs to be rescued, Rash said. He said water was waist- to chest-deep, but no injuries were reported.

About 30 people were taking shelter Wednesday morning at the First United Methodist Church in Granbury, the Rev. Neil Norman said. Volunteers were providing for the evacuees' basic needs, such as clothing and medicine, he said.

"There's some shock because the water must have come up extremely quickly," Norman said. "This is all pretty much hard to believe."

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Teen Drowns
A teenager was swept away as firefighters using ropes tried to pull him ashore from a bridge pillar where he was stranded in a swollen creek in Garland, fire police spokesman Joe Harn said.
Rescue crews said they spotted William Griffin, 13, of Garland, at about 10:35 p.m. by some bushes south of Kingsley Road and Glenbrook Drive.
CPR was performed on Griffin after he was pulled from the water, and he was transported to Baylor Hospital of Garland, where he was pronounced dead after 11:30 p.m.

Flooding Swamps Several Cities
Some Dallas drivers were stuck in high water from additional storms Wednesday morning.

A cell phone helped save a man trapped in a car on a flooded bridge in Mansfield. The 20-year-old was trying to cross Walnut Creek Wednesday morning when floodwaters washed his car from one side of the bridge to the other. He called 911 and guided rescue teams to his location. Crews used a rescue line to pull him out safely.

Despite flooding problems that led to the closure of Six Flags Over Texas on Tuesday, the theme park was reopened Wednesday morning after officials inspected the rides, making sure they were safe.

Several inches of rain fell in Arlington, causing Johnson Creek, which runs next to the amusement park, to overflow its banks. Everyone managed to get out safely.

Slow moving storms in Wichita Falls flooded streets and homes there, and high water was backing up sewage into many houses.
The American Red Cross set up an emergency shelter in a church for residents who want to leave their water-soaked homes.
Crews are also searching for a fisherman who fell into the Wichita River on Monday and was washed away by the current.
High water threatened homes in the communities of Shady Shores and Corinth.

Water gushed through homes in Celina leaving behind damage.

More Rain In Forecast
A number of flood warnings were issued throughout Texas as rivers stretching from south of Austin to north of Dallas-Fort Worth were swollen by heavy rain. More rain was expected Wednesday across the state, according to the National Weather Service.
It's been an extremely wet spring and early summer for much of Texas, from the Oklahoma border to south of San Antonio, said National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Lenz. It's the wettest year on record in Austin, where more than 30 inches of rain has fallen since January, and Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco and Wichita Falls have also received near record amounts of rainfall.
The rainfall has more than compensated for a drought that much of Texas had been experiencing since 2005, Lenz said.

Flooding Leads To Evacuations In Central Texas
Floods swamped Central Texas early Wednesday, and the downpour and high winds were so treacherous that helicopters were forced to abruptly halt efforts to rescue people stranded on rooftops, officials said.

Austin-area officials said there were reports early Wednesday of as many as 20 people trapped in fast-moving water in trees, or atop vehicles or rooftops after hours of pounding rains.
"We got hard facts of 18-plus inches of rain in a couple of those places since midnight," said Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services spokesman Warren Hassinger.

The Marble Falls area, about 40 miles northwest of Austin, got the most rain, Lenz said. He said up to 18 inches fell overnight, and more was expected throughout the day.

Marble Falls Mayor Raymond Whitman said there were 32 high-water rescues but no known fatalities, although empty vehicles were scattered around town.

"We don't know if they got out," he said.

Hassinger said four rescue attempts before dawn were abandoned because of weather, and he didn't know what happened to the people needing help. Officials were following up on early calls seeking rescue and assessing the situation, Hassinger said.

"I'll be pleasantly surprised if we don't end up with some fatalities over this," he said.

Hassinger said four rescue attempts before dawn were abandoned because of wind and rain, and he didn't know what happened to the people needing help.

One aborted rescue had attempted to get four people from the roof of a house in Granite Shoals, where water was about 4 feet from the top of the building. They had pulled a possible drowning victim from the water, Hassinger said. One successful helicopter-assisted rescue plucked a Williamson County sheriff's deputy and another person from atop the lawman's car along the San Gabriel River near Georgetown, Hassinger said.

Ray Thomas and his wife fled their house on a peninsula between the North and South San Gabriel rivers at about 4:45 a.m., after hearing an emergency weather radio bulletin. He stood on the banks of the South San Gabriel River later in the morning, using binoculars to see if his house was under water.

"We're lucky we got out," he said, still unsure whether his house was OK. "In September we were praying for rain. What worries me now is the rain that's still to come."

Storm runoff is making its way to Central Texas lakes, causing major flooding in some areas, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority. Floodgates have been opened at several dams, raising the Colorado River's water level in Austin, Bastrop, Smithville, La Grange and Wharton. But officials did not expect the river to exceed flood stage.

LCRA spokeswoman Krista Umscheid said some lake-area residents have evacuated, but she did not know how many had left their homes. She said the authority used an automated phone notification system to alert residents to the floodgates' opening.

There's a fairly good chance of showers and thunderstorms into the weekend in Central Texas, Lenz said, though the rainfall shouldn't be as heavy as it has been. Still, even a small amount of rain could cause more flash flooding because the soil is saturated.