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Rain Keeps Coming in Texas as Death Toll Rises to 29

  • VOA News

People canoe through floodwaters past a stop sign near Bear Creek Park in Houston, May 30, 2015.

People canoe through floodwaters past a stop sign near Bear Creek Park in Houston, May 30, 2015.

Heavy rains pounded parts of Texas on Saturday as rescue teams searched for people still missing in the record-setting storms that have submerged large areas of the state, including the city of Houston.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning Saturday for counties near the region of Dallas-Fort Worth.

Dallas police said a man's body was recovered from standing water after storms flooded parts of the area, bringing the death toll to at least 29 people from the massive rains that began in Texas and the neighboring state of Oklahoma about a week ago.

Twenty-five of the deaths have been in Texas alone, and 11 people were still missing Saturday.

On Friday, President Barack Obama declared that a "major disaster" existed in Texas and ordered the state to receive federal aid.

Until recently, Texas was suffering from a severe drought. Officials said swelled rivers and lakes in the state might not recede to normal levels for several months.

Eyes on Brazos River

The Brazos River southwest of Houston was the main area of concern Saturday as floodwaters moved from north and central Texas downstream toward the Gulf of Mexico. Floyd Preston's home in the Houston suburb of Rosenberg is about 100 yards from the flooded river and three houses from a police barricade marking the evacuation zone.

"I'm going to stay for the time being. This is not the first time for a flood. One way or another, when your time comes, it could be on dry land or water,'' the 66-year-old said as he was trimming his lawn, adding that the closest floodwaters had gotten in the past was about 50 yards away.

A creek that empties into the Brazos River — which was expected to rise until Monday morning and crest at 50 feet — went up 4 feet between the time Ricky McCullough, 47, and a friend measured it on Friday night and Saturday morning. An alligator poked its snout above water as he talked, followed by a black water moccasin slithering along the muddied water.

"I'm concerned about it enough, but I'm a lot more concerned because we have a lot of older people living down here,'' he said.

Frightening forecast

He's also worried about the forecast of heavy rains — about 1 to 2 inches projected for the greater Houston area, according to the National Weather Service. But lead forecaster Scott Overpeck in the Houston office said the storms were expected to be slow-moving, and if they stall out, portions of the area could receive between 4 to 5 inches in just a few hours.

Earlier in the week, the Colorado River in Wharton and the San Jacinto River near Houston were threatening homes, but the National Weather Service said both were expected to recede below flood stage by Sunday. Wharton authorities said Saturday that they were considering lifting a mandatory evacuation; residents from 30 homes were ordered to evacuate Friday.

In central Texas, about 2,000 volunteers and 100 members of a search-and-rescue team looked for a group of people whose vacation house was swept away in a massive flood on the Blanco River.

Some information for this report came from AP.