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Receding floodwaters reveal damage in Texas

August 20, 2008|From the Associated Press

MCALLEN, TEXAS — Flooding receded Tuesday in southern Texas and main highways reopened after as much as 13 inches of rain, which covered some neighborhoods with 3 to 4 feet of water.

Torrential rain flooded about 1,400 homes in Starr County, forcing the evacuation of at least 243 people, said Natividad Gonzalez of the Sheriff's Department.

No one was seriously hurt, but receding floodwaters revealed damaged roads, sinkholes and overwhelmed sewer systems.

Skies in Texas were mostly clear Tuesday, but heavy rain threatened just across the border in Mexico in the afternoon.

"We're just holding our breath," said Gene Falcon, Starr County emergency management coordinator.

Authorities near Wichita Falls used boats and military vehicles to rescue about 150 people from homes and stranded vehicles, said Wichita County's emergency management coordinator, Lee Bourgoin. No injuries were reported, but officials warned residents of low-lying areas to be prepared to evacuate.

"The ground is so hard here because we're in a drought, and when the rain came down so fast, it just flooded," Bourgoin said.

Heavy rain also caused flooding in parts of northern Texas and Oklahoma.

Firefighters used boats Tuesday morning to rescue some people from homes and vehicles in El Reno, Okla., just west of Oklahoma City, said Canadian County Emergency Management Director Jerry Smith.

The El Reno area had 4.8 inches of rain in three days, and 9.65 inches had fallen in southwest Oklahoma's Jefferson County, officials said. High water blocked more than a dozen Oklahoma roads, but no large-scale evacuations had been ordered.

"We could have used a little [rain], but we didn't need a gullywasher," Smith said.

In the Dallas suburb of Garland, a buildup of rainwater was blamed for the collapse of a strip-mall roof early Tuesday. Eight businesses were damaged, but no injuries were reported.

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