SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) — Up to 10 inches of rain fell over 24 hours in parts of Texas, causing numerous evacuations and rescues Saturday night and Sunday, while a firefighter in northeast Oklahoma died after being swept away in floodwaters.
Near Houston, high winds damaged rooftops, blew out windows and injured two people at an apartment complex.
The storm system that moved across central and North Texas and most of Oklahoma pushed northeast on Sunday, but the region isn’t out of the weather woods yet, as the National Weather Service says there’ll be more rainfall in the coming week.
Central Texas saw dozens of high-water rescues and calls for residents to evacuate overnight as the Blanco River and other swollen waterways breached their banks. The river — which crested Sunday above 40 feet, more than double the flood stage of 13 feet — swamped sections of Interstate 35, forcing parts of the busy north-south highway to close.
Rescue personnel used pontoon boats and a helicopter to evacuate people overnight as floodwaters quickly surrounded their homes, said 62-year-old San Marcos resident Rudy Olivo.
Water came to the top of the steps leading to his home in the town that’s about halfway between San Antonio and Austin. Other homes in his neighborhood were flooded and many roads in the area were underwater.
Olivo has lived in the area for more than 50 years and said he’s never witnessed such severe storms.
“This is the worst I’ve seen it because the water rose so fast,” he said.
Hays County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeri Skrocki says numerous rescues were conducted in the community of Wimberley, about 40 miles southwest of Austin. No serious injuries were reported. Forecasts call for the rain to continue Sunday in the region and be heavy at times Monday, with continued threats of flash flooding.
To the southeast, the Houston area dealt with strong storms, including one Sunday morning that damaged at least 50 apartments at a complex. Two people who were injured were taken to hospitals, though the severity of their injuries weren’t yet known, the Houston Fire Department said in a news release.
And about 50 miles north of the city, authorities were concerned that the dam on Lake Lewis may fail due to rain and issued a mandatory evacuation for residents. The National Weather Service said another 2-3 inches could fall on Sunday, with up to 4 inches in the forecast for Monday.
In the northeast Oklahoma town of Claremore, a firefighter died early Sunday after being swept away by floodwaters during a rescue effort, according to Rogers County Emergency Management spokesman Thomas Hudson. Residents in Cleveland and Comanche counties in Oklahoma had to be rescued from attics and roofs on Saturday.