Clear Weather Finally Reaches Texas After Deadly Floods

Clear weather arrived in Texas and Oklahoma on Sunday, easing recovery efforts and finally granting a reprieve to the rain-soaked Southwest after a series of storms caused widespread flooding and killed at least 31 people there.

Forecasters predicted said the heavy rain had likely run its course, and that a week of dry weather will aid searchers looking for the 10 people who were still missing Saturday.

"The last of the concentrated heavy rain was yesterday and it looks like the drier weather pattern will exist for a week," Weather Channel Meteorologist Michael Palmer told NBC News Sunday.

Search and rescue teams discovered two bodies Saturday in hard-hit Hays County, southwest of Austin, a group of people were swept away while on vacation last weekend, officials announced. The identities of the victims were not released, so it was not clear if they were on the missing persons list.

And in Dallas County, searchers recovered the body of a 7-year-old girl Saturday evening after a vehicle with six people inside crossed two lanes of traffic, hit an embankment and flipped into floodwater along a highway, a spokesperson for the Dallas Sheriff's Department confirmed to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

A group of volunteers had been looking for the people after the vacation house was swept off the foundation. A thousand volunteers made up more than 70 search teams across the states

Among the missing is 6-year-old William Charba, the son of Randy Charba, 42, and Michelle Charba, 43. Michelle's body was found Wednesday. Michelle's mother, Sue Carey, 71, is still missing, but officials said late Friday they had identified the remains of her father, retired dentist Ralph Carey, 73.

Jonathan McComb, the lone survivor from the house, and his family had joined the Charbas and the Careys for the holiday weekend, all coming from Corpus Christi. McComb's wife, Laura, 33, and 4-year-old daughter, Leighton, are still unaccounted for. The body of their 6-year-old son, Andrew, was found Wednesday in the river.

President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration amid the severe weather, offering federal funding to affected people in Harris, Hays and Van Zandt counties, the White House said in a statement early Saturday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had earlier requested a presidential disaster declaration to get federal help for affected counties.

Doctors in North Texas said they had witnessed a rash of snake bites as the rain and flooding forced wild animals out of their natural habitats.

Rain continued to move across the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Saturday morning, flooding roads and adding to the already rising lake and creek levels. Flash flood warnings were activated for many of the bigger counties, including Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin.

From Dallas to Lewisville, Denton and beyond, police departments, cities and residents reported high water and road closures. The heavy rains and high water led to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close Lewisville Lake to boaters in order to ensure the safety of nearby homes.

“Wakes created by boaters could potentially flood homes and damage property adjacent to the elevated shoreline. Additionally, debris and underwater obstructions create hazardous conditions so all persons around the lake are urged to stay aware of changing conditions,” the Corps said in a media release.

The Brazos River southwest of Houston was the main area of concern Saturday as floodwaters moved from North and Central Texas downstream toward the Gulf of Mexico. Floyd Preston's home in the Houston suburb of Rosenberg is about 100 yards from the flooded river and three houses down from a police barricade marking the evacuation zone.

"I'm going to stay for the time being. This is not the first time for a flood. One way or another, when your time comes, it could be on dry land or water," the 66-year-old said as he was trimming his lawn, adding that the closest floodwaters had gotten in the past was about 50 yards away.

A creek that empties into the Brazos River — which is expected to rise until Monday morning and crest at 50 feet — went up 4 feet between the time Ricky McCullough, 47, and a friend measured it on Friday night and Saturday morning. An alligator poked its snout above water as he talked, followed by a black water moccasin slithering along the muddied water.

"I'm concerned about it enough, but I'm a lot more concerned because we have a lot of older people living down here," he said.

In Central Texas, about 2,000 volunteers and 100 members of an elite search and rescue team looked for a group of people whose vacation house was swept away in a massive flood on the Blanco River.

This week's record rainfall in Texas eased the state's drought and swelled rivers and lakes to the point that they may not return to normal levels until July.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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