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Texas governor: flooding had 'tsunami-type power' as 12 remain missing

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Three reported dead as Texas and Oklahoma battered by storms Tornado kills 13 in Mexican border city of Ciudad Acuna

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Texas governor Greg Abbott expanded the emergency disaster zone in his state on Monday, adding 24 counties to a list of 13 affected by storms and flooding. Three people were dead and 12 reported missing as Oklahoma was also hit hard, while a tornado left 13 dead in a Mexican town just beyond the border.

At an afternoon news conference, Abbott said the damage caused by flash floods in central Texas was “absolutely devastating” and had been caused by “relentless, tsunami-type power”.

The 12 people missing were from two families staying together in one house in Wimberley Valley, in Texas. Bert Cobb, a Hays County judge, said witnesses reported seeing the house pushed off its foundations by rushing water. He said only pieces of the house had been found, and that one person rescued from the home told workers about the other people inside.

At least 2,000 Texas residents were forced out of their homes. The central part of the state was particularly hard hit, especially San Marcos and Wimberley, near the Blanco river – which was measured at 40ft, the highest it had reached since 2010.

Hays County’s emergency management coordinator, Kharley Smith, estimated that 350 to 400 homes in Wimberley had been destroyed.

In Mexico, 13 people died when a tornado hit the border city of Ciudad Acuna at around 6.40am on Monday. Photos from the scene showed cars with their hoods ripped off, resting upended against single-story houses. One car’s frame was bent around the gate of a house. A bus was flipped and crumpled on a roadway.

In the US, storms covered land from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes over the Memorial Day weekend. Oklahoma and Texas bore the brunt of the damage.
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Forecasters predicted more moderate storms through Monday, but already overwhelmed waterways and saturated grounds were more vulnerable to lighter weather conditions. The weather could also affect recovery and rescue missions.

High winds, thunderstorms and scattered hail were forecast for parts of southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana into Monday night. North Texas, including Dallas and Fort Worth, was placed on tornado watch.

At least three American residents died in the storms. In Oklahoma, firefighter Jason Farley died after being swept into a storm drain while attempting to evacuate residents. A Tulsa woman died in a weather-related traffic accident. Texas officials confirmed that one person died in San Marcos, though it was not clear how.

May is now the rainiest month on record in Oklahoma. Albert Ashwood, the state’s emergency management department director, warned about damage to roadways and cautioned against using the streets during a popular weekend for travel.

“This is a holiday weekend, and Oklahomans want to get out and observe their Memorial Day traditions, but we are asking everyone to please exercise extreme caution in doing so,” Ashwood told the Oklahoman newspaper.

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In Johnson County, just outside Dallas, residents grappled with the third large flood in four weeks that have also included the region’s largest earthquake and a mile-wide tornado.

Jamie Moore, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said the weather events were unprecedented in the area’s history.

“People who lived here their entire lives can’t remember a spring like this,” the Dallas Morning News.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com

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