Recovery teams press on in the search for survivors early Tuesday. They were looking for 12 people who went missing after a rain-swollen river in center of the U.S. state of Texas carried a vacation home off its foundation, slamming it into a bridge downstream.
The hunt for the missing picked up after a holiday weekend of terrible storms that dumped record rainfall on the Plains and Midwest, caused major flooding and spawned tornadoes and killed at least eight people in Oklahoma and Texas. More than 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in Texas, and thousands of residents are displaced.
Authorities were also searching for victims and assessing damage just across the Texas-Mexico border in Ciudad Acuna, where a tornado Monday killed 13 people and left at least five unaccounted for.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared disasters in 37 counties, allowing for further mobilization of state resources to assist.
“You cannot candy coat it. It’s absolutely massive,” Abbott said after touring the destruction.
The worst flooding damage was in Wimberley, where the vacation home was swept away, a popular tourist town along the Blanco River in the corridor between Austin and San Antonio.
Trey Hatt, a spokesman for the Hays County Emergency Operations Center, said Monday night that the “search component” of the mission was over, meaning no more survivors were expected to be found in the flood debris.
At least 11 dead in intense storms in Texas and Oklahoma
The southern United States continues to battle severe weather with damaging floods after torrential rainfall killed at least nine people and dozens more are missing in Oklahoma and Texas. CCTV’s Ginger Vaughn filed this report from Houston.
At least 11 dead in intense storms in Texas and OklahomaThe southern United States continues to battle severe weather with damaging floods after torrential rainfall killed at least nine people and dozens more are missing in Oklahoma and Texas. CCTV's Ginger Vaughn filed this report from Houston.
Witnesses reported seeing the swollen river push the home off its foundation and smash it into a bridge. Only pieces of the home have been found, Hays County Judge Bert Cobb said.
Cobb had said Monday night that one person who was rescued from the home told workers that the other 12 inside were all connected to two families. Young children were among those believed to be missing.
Early Tuesday, Hays County spokeswoman Laureen Chernow acknowledged discrepancies concerning how many people might have been inside the vacation home and that officials were not able to confirm whether all 12 were in that house.
“We don’t have that certainty,” Chernow said.
Kristi Wyatt, a spokeswoman for the City of San Marcos, said Tuesday that eight of the missing were friends and family who had gathered for the holiday. She said three more were members of another family in a separate situation. An unrelated person was also missing, Wyatt said.
The Blanco crested above 40 feet – more than triple its flood stage of 13 feet. The river swamped Interstate 35 and forced parts of the busy north-south highway to close. Rescuers used pontoon boats and a helicopter to pull people out.
Hundreds of trees along the Blanco were uprooted or snapped, and they collected in piles of debris up to 20 feet high.
Report complied with information from the Associated Press and CCTV America