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Obama: US Has to Be More Prepared for Climate Change


President Barack Obama visits the National Hurricane Center in Miami, May 28, 2015.

With parts of Texas battling deadly, record-breaking flooding, President Barack Obama said Thursday that the country has to be better prepared to deal with the impact of climate change.

The president visited the National Hurricane Center in Miami for an update on preparations for this year's Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins June 1. He said global warming is having significant effects on the pace and intensity of storms.

"The best climate scientists in the world are telling us that extreme weather events like hurricanes are likely to become more powerful," Obama said. "When you combine stronger storms with rising seas, that's a recipe for more devastating floods."

The president said that while climate change did not cause Hurricane Sandy, the last major hurricane to hit the U.S. Atlantic coast in 2012, it may have made it a stronger storm.

Meanwhile, more rain and flash floods are predicted to wash across parts of Texas over the next few days. The region is already experiencing its heaviest rainfall in May since recordkeeping began in 1895.

Meteorologists say they do not expect rivers to return to normal levels until July.

The city of Houston and surrounding counties been some of the hardest-hit areas. On Wednesday, the Houston area got a respite from the rain, but by Thursday, runoff from earlier in the week had lifted the San Jacinto River above flood stage, and it kept climbing.

About 60 miles southwest of Houston, the mayor of Wharton asked residents to voluntarily evacuate about 300 homes because of the predicted rise of the Colorado River. It's expected to crest at 45.5 feet, nearly 7 feet above flood stage, by either late Friday or early Saturday.

In the rural Parker County community of Horseshoe Bend, 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, officials asked people in 250 homes to flee from the Brazos River. Parker County Emergency Management spokesman Joel Kertok said the Brazos, which has a flood level of 21 feet, was at nearly 24 feet.

Heavy rain, floods and tornadoes have killed at least 23 people in Texas and Oklahoma and have left at least 14 others missing.

In central Texas, crews continued looking for the eight people feared dead after the swollen Blanco River smashed through Wimberley, a small tourist town between San Antonio and Austin, over the Memorial Day weekend. Authorities there are concerned that more rain forecast for the region could hamper the search.

Some information for this report came from AP.