Massive flash flooding caused by record rainfall
in Oklahoma and Texas has swept away hundreds of homes, forced over
2,000 people to flee and left three people dead. Up to 400 homes in the town of Wimberley, Texas, were washed
away by floods along the Blanco River, which rose 26ft (8m) in just an
hour, authorities said.
Describing the scene, Hays County emergency management
coordinator Kharley Smith said: "We do have whole streets with maybe one
or two houses left on them and the rest are just slabs. It looks pretty
bad out there."
In the nearby city of San Marcos, people were ordered to
evacuate their homes on Sunday morning as flood waters rose quickly
around them and turned normally bone-dry streets into meandering rivers.
Several cars and trucks were submerged, and some people used
inflatable lounge chairs to float down the street, in surreal scenes.
The city, which cancelled Monday's Memorial Day ceremony,
said it had opened temporary shelters for residents who could not return
"Evacuation messages have gone out via reverse 911 and
police officers and firefighters are going door-to-door to notify
residents in affected areas," the authorities said in a statement.
Crews were searching for several missing people in the city and a curfew was enforced in an effort to avoid fatalities.
In Claremore, Oklahoma, firefighter Jason Farley died when he was swept away while trying to rescue 10 people in high water.
The body of a Texas man was recovered from a flooded area along the Blanco River, authorities said.
And a woman in Tulsa died in a traffic-related crash.
The extreme weather also led to thunderstorms knocking out
power to more than 8,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana and
And a tornado briefly touched down in Houston with winds of
around 100mph, damaging rooftops, toppling trees, blowing out windows
and injuring several people.
The Blanco River rose above 40ft - more than triple its
flood stage of 13ft and hugely exceeding its previous flood record of
It swamped Interstate 35 and forced parts of the busy north-south highway to close.
Rescuers used pontoon boats and a helicopter to pull people out.
Dallas is also facing severe flooding from the Trinity
River, which is expected to peak near 40ft on Monday, while the Red and
Wichita rivers also rose far above their flood stages.
The National Weather Service has warned more wild weather is expected.
Strong to severe thunderstorms are forecast across a large
stretch of the central and southern plains toward the Mississippi River
Valley and flash flooding is expected from central Iowa into southern
This May is already the wettest on record for several cities in the southern Plains states.
Oklahoma City has recorded some 27in (69cm) of rain.
Last year the state's capital got only 4.2in.