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Man Dies, Another Is Missing as Rain Pounds Texas

Weather: A four-day storm dumps as much as 15 inches in some areas in the central part of the state, which had been suffering through a drought.

July 03, 2002|From Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO -- Torrential rain drenched central Texas for a fourth straight day Tuesday, flooding homes and blocking highways. One man died and another was missing after they were swept away in flood waters.

Gov. Rick Perry activated the Texas National Guard to help with relief efforts. Rescue teams used rafts, personal watercraft and helicopters to rescue people from stranded vehicles and flooded homes.

The storm has dumped more than 15 inches of rain in some areas. Less than a week ago, water restrictions were imposed because of a drought.

Low-lying areas in San Antonio were under several feet of water, while dry creek beds were transformed into boiling brown torrents carrying trees and household appliances downstream.

In Utopia, about 75 miles west of San Antonio, a man died after being washed off a farm tractor while traveling to help other people, said Travis Hall, a state police spokesman.

Also near Utopia, a man was swept away from a car stuck in deep water.

More than a dozen people were ordered to evacuate a mobile home park in Austin.

Storms will continue until at least today and possibly into the Fourth of July, said weather service meteorologist Larry Eblen.

On Sunday, a second man drowned in Austin when he fell into a swollen creek.

An 11-year-old boy was in critical condition after he was rescued from a San Antonio creek, where he fell in after losing his footing on a bank.

About 70 roads in Hays County were closed by high water.

"Everything is flooded that can be flooded," said Hays County sheriff's Sgt. Allen Bridges. "There is no way to get east or west or north or south ... right now."

The governor said two National Guard helicopters were sent to help travelers who were stranded by high water on Interstate 10 on Tuesday.

Twenty National Guard personnel and 10 large trucks were sent to San Antonio to assist with rescues and evacuations.

Several state parks were closed or had been forced to move campers to higher ground Tuesday.

Flooding of the Frio and Nueces rivers and their tributaries closed a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from Cotulla to Dilley in Frio County for more than 10 hours Monday.

"The county is shut down. We've had cars swept off the road and people stuck in houses," Frio County chief deputy Rodney Lucio said.

Farther south, LaSalle County also had high water.

"I guess this is our 100-year flood.... I'm flooded all over the county. Every crossing I have is flooded," said LaSalle County Sheriff Jerry Patterson. The Border Patrol office in Laredo sent watercraft to aid with rescue efforts.

The heavy four-day rainfall had boosted the Edwards Aquifer, a main source of drinking water in the area, by more than 25 feet on Monday.

Last week, the decline of water in the aquifer had triggered mandatory water usage restrictions in San Antonio.

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