Hermine remnants cause massive flooding in Texas

Published September 8, 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas – The remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine caused massive flooding in northern Texas on Wednesday, killing at least one person and much of the city of Arlington under water.

Television footage from a Fox affiliate showed firefighters using ladders to reach residents stranded in the upper floors of their homes in a subdivision. Bewildered residents surprised by the extent of the flooding waded through waste-deep water in the streets.

Two mobile homes and a house were swept away north of Austin, and dozens of people sought emergency shelter after state and local authorities performed numerous high-water rescues from Austin to Dallas. Remnants of the storm, downgraded to a tropical depression Tuesday night, appeared to be moving into southern Oklahoma in satellite images and were forecast to move as far north as Kansas in the coming days.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for many parts of Oklahoma, and the entire state was under a flash flood watch.

At least one person died in a vehicle submerged by water from a swollen creek in Killeen, north of Austin, the National Weather Service reported. Elsewhere, authorities were searching for an unknown number of possible victims, said Williamson County sheriff's Sgt. John Foster.

Foster had no reports of deaths or injuries in his county but he said authorities "were kind of preparing for the worst." Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens were assisting in the search. The wardens reported rescues of nine people in Belton and four in Williamson County. Officials also said a state helicopter had been deployed to search for missing people near Lake Granger, north of Austin.

The emergency response came as the remnants of Hermine dumped several inches of rain across central and north Texas overnight, snarling the morning commute in the Dallas area. Flood warnings were posted throughout both regions.

Students at Bear Creek Intermediate School in Keller, located just north of Fort Worth, were evacuated Wednesday morning to a church because of rising floodwaters along Bear Creek. The district's website said that all of the students were safely transported to the church and will have a regular school day there.

Residents of an apartment complex in Arlington, near Dallas, took refuge on their rooftops after being trapped by flood waters. They were rescued by fire department personnel using a ladder truck. The storm created flash floods that have closed roads, public buildings and left some people stranded in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The storm brought winds gusting to about 70 mph and downpours to Texas but left only minor scrapes in the storm-weary Rio Grande Valley, which is proving resilient this hurricane season after taking a third tropical system on the chin.

The storm struck the flood-prone valley just after the cleanup finished from Hurricane Alex at the start of the summer and an unnamed tropical depression in July. Only last week had Hidalgo County on the U.S.-Mexico border stowed its last water pump.

But Hermine's remnants were expected to cover more of the U.S. than Alex, which swiped Texas in June as a Category 1 storm before plunging southwest and breaking up over Mexico.

"This is going to be much more of a memorable storm than Alex," National Weather Service meteorologist Joseph Tomaselli said.

The Coast Guard said it received multiple reports of vessels in distress late Monday and early Tuesday. Coast Guard crews and other officials had to rescue 17 crew members and a dog from three other fishing vessels that got stuck near the South Padre Island beach in South Texas. All were treated for minor injuries, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

Mexico felt the storm effects much more acutely than Texas on Tuesday as Hermine knocked out power for several hours in the border city of Matamoros and damaged about 20 homes, whose inhabitants were among 3,500 people who evacuated to shelters.

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Associated Press Writers Jamie Stengle, Terry Wallace, Danny Robbins and Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report. Jay Root reported from Austin.

Written by JAY ROOT and JEFF CARLTON, Associated Press Writer and Associated Press Writer

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