Heavy rains hit Texas as death toll rises to 13 from storms

Reuters

Storms and deadly floods hit the Midwest and Plains
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Motorists areĀ  stranded along I-45 along North MainĀ  in Houston after storms flooded the area, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Overnight heavy rains caused flooding closing some portions of major highways in the Houston area. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP)

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Storms dumped rain on parts of Texas on Wednesday, bringing more runoff to swollen waterways that spilled their banks this week in places such as Houston, where floods have killed six people and caused chaos in the fourth most-populous U.S. city.

At least 13 people have been killed in Texas from storms that started over the Memorial Day weekend and led to record floods, destroying hundreds of homes, sweeping away bridges and stranding more than 2,000 motorists on roads.

The death toll in Texas was set to rise with numerous people still missing and thunderstorms pelting the already flood-hit cities of Houston and Austin.

“This rain has the potential to cause additional street flooding so residents are advised to be careful as they commute to work,” the city of Houston said in a statement, adding about 1,400 structures were damaged by high water and two people were unaccounted for in the city.

The latest victim in Houston was a 31-year-old man whose body was discovered near a submerged vehicle, it said.

The storms dealt a blow to air travel in the region with more than 200 flights canceled as of 12 p.m. CDT (1600 GMT)on Wednesday at airports in Dallas and Houston, some of the nation’s busiest.

Near Dallas, police evacuated people living near a dam that had threatened to burst due to surging floodwaters. Water had topped the Padera dam, about 25 miles (40 kms) southwest of Dallas, and police in Midlothian called on people living downstream to evacuate and move livestock to higher ground.

“Engineers have assessed the dam and do not anticipate a failure at this time,” the Midlothian police said in a statement.

Flash flood warnings were expected through the weekend in Texas, the Texas Division of Emergency Management said as a storm system that has settled along several southern states brings more rain.

About 11 inches (28 cm) of rain fell in Houston on Monday while parts of Austin have been hit by as much as 7 inches (18 cm). Helicopter crews in both cities plucked to safety people who had been stranded in cars and on top of buildings.

There was no damage estimate available for Texas, which has a $1.4 trillion-a-year economy and is the country’s main domestic source of energy, as well as an agricultural and manufacturing power.