Flooding Recedes in South Texas After Foot of Rain

August 20, 2008

The main highway in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley was open to traffic again Aug. 19 as flooding receded following a deluge of up to 13 inches of rain across southern Texas.

The torrential rain flooded an estimated 750 homes in Starr County but authorities couldn’t persuade everyone to evacuate.

“It’s a pride thing,” Starr County Emergency Management Coordinator Gene Falcon said. Many people preferred to stay at their flooded homes to keep an eye on their property, he said.

Still, at least 243 people did evacuate, said Natividad Gonzalez of the Starr County Sheriff’s Department. He said he was not aware of any injuries.

Noelia Lopez said she saw water starting to pool in her yard around noon Aug. 18, and after 1 p.m. the house was surrounded by water.

“It came in through all three doors that I have,” she said. She left, and when she returned Monday evening she found her cats perched on top of the windows.

Monday evening, water was as much as 3 or 4 feet deep in neighborhoods east of Roma and north of U.S. Highway 83, the Rio Grande Valley’s main artery. Water from Arroyo Quiote rose as much as a foot and a half above the highway’s guardrails.

Conditions had improved early Tuesday.

“The water’s going down; the main highways are open,” Gonzalez said.

The heavy rain in the Rio Grande Valley fell on ground that was still saturated from Hurricane Dolly, which came ashore in late July, Starr County Emergency Management Coordinator Gene Falcon said.

Elsewhere, more rain fell Tuesday morning.

Flooding was reported Tuesday in parts of northwest Texas, near Wichita Falls. A flash flood warning was in effect from Decatur to Wichita Falls, and some roads were blocked by standing water, including sections of Interstate 44 between Wichita Falls and Burkburnett.

The National Weather Service posted flood warnings for parts of northern Texas.

In the Dallas suburb of Garland, a buildup of rain water was blamed for the collapse of the roof on a strip shopping center early Tuesday. Eight businesses were damaged, but no injuries were reported.

The worst of Monday’s flooding was north of U.S. Highway 83 where a continuous “lake” 3 miles long and a mile wide spread through neighborhoods in Escobares and Los Saenz, small communities east of Roma.

Roma is a town of about 10,000 people some 210 miles south of San Antonio.

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