Mother Nature went on another rampage as Memorial Day weekend flooding devastated parts of Texas. The severe weather and flooding took six lives and at least two people are still reported as missing. The majority of the fatalities were in rural Washington County, Texas, located between Houston and Austin.
Mother Nature went on another rampage as Memorial Day weekend flooding devastated parts of Texas. The severe weather and flooding took six lives and at least two people are still reported as missing. The majority of the fatalities were in rural Washington County, Texas, located between Houston and Austin. The area reported rainfall of over 16.5 inches late last week. While two bodies were found on Saturday, it’s not clear if they were the original two reported as missing.
NBC News released the names and circumstances of four of the flooding victims:
- Lela Holland, 64, died Friday as flood waters filled her home;
- Darren Mitchell, 21, was swept off the road in his vehicle. Mitchell was a National Guardsman;
- Pyarali Rajebhi Umatiya, 59, died when his vehicle stalled in high water;
- Jimmy Wayne Schaeffer, 49, died when he drove his vehicle into high water.
In Travis County, Texas, two other victims were swept away by floods on Friday, according to County Emergency Services spokesperson Lisa Block. A witness said one victim was holding onto a pole before being taken by the floodwaters. Firefighters reported another victim being swept away in a vehicle.
It wasn’t just the Austin are that felt Mother Nature’s wrath. Houston, a city that has already seen its share and more of severe weather this year, was hit hard and fast, too. Harris County officials asked roughly 750 families in the Northwood Pines subdivision to voluntarily evacuate, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Meanwhile, residents near the west for of the San Jacinto River received warnings that flooding was likely, even for elevated homes. According to Francisco Sanchez, a spokesperson for the Office of Emergency Management in Harris County, “The skies are clear and things look good. But we want to make sure people understand that we are not out of the woods yet. We have to keep an eye on water that’s coming through our bayou system.”
Elementary students at Decker Prairie Elementary in Pinehurst, Texas (northwest of Houston) had an unexpected adventure, too. They had to spend the night at the school due to the flooding, according to the Chronicle. No one was injured and all families were reunited on Saturday.
Some Memorial Day events were canceled in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, where officials issued warnings of a possible record-breaking flood, perhaps even a “potential 100-year flood.” Residents as far away as four miles from the Brazos River were warned of the dangers as 20 inches of rain fell north of the already swollen Brazos.
The record expected to be “obliterated” today was set in 1994 in Simonton, Texas. National Weather Service meteorologists said that the Brazos was set to crest at 53.5 feet in Fort Bend County, three feet higher than the 1994 record.
Even the San Antonio area got smacked. In Comfort, Texas, roughly 45 miles north of SA, a car was swept from the road by the flooded Cypress Creek around 1:30AM Sunday. The car had three occupants, according to Kendall County Sheriff’s Cpl. Reid Daly. A female passenger was rescued from a tree and the driver made it to safety, but 23-year-old Florida Molima was not so lucky. She was swept away and her body was found about 8 miles downstream around 11AM Sunday.
A 10-year-old boy went missing near Fort Worth on Sunday when he fell into the Brazos River while fishing with friends. Officials reported the river is usually about 3 feet deep this time of year, but is currently closer to 13 feet deep. It’s not known if the boy was found.
These sad stories underscore what I’ve come to understand as a sort of state motto for the Lone Star State (or at least parts of it): Turn around don’t drown.
Unless there is an emergency or you’re being evacuated, there is no reason to be on the road during flood warnings. Nothing, repeat, nothing, is so important that it cannot wait. Other safety advice:
- Water is almost always deeper than it looks when over roads. Don’t assume, even if you’ve got a jacked-up truck, that you’ll make it. If you’re wrong, the price is high.
- Don’t drive around barricades! For the love of all that is logical and sane, they are there for a reason!
- Be careful near streams, rivers and even running water near roads. The speed at which the water is moving can be dangerous and the current deceptively strong.