Monday, May 30, 2016

Heavy storms hit southern US state, killing 6

Heavy storms have swept the southern part of the United States, killing 6 people and forcing the evacuation of thousands of others.

Two more bodies were found on Sunday along flooded streams, which brought to six the death toll from the flooding over the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. state of Texas.

The latest flooding victim was a woman who died when the car she was riding in was swept from the street by the flooded Cypress Creek early Sunday afternoon, said Kendall County officials.

Earlier on the same day, another body was spotted near Austin in central Texas in an aerial search. Travis County sheriff's spokesman Lisa Block said the body was discovered on the north end of a retention pond near the Circuit of the Americas auto racing track.

Two people were reported to have been washed away by flood waters in roughly the same place early Friday. It is still uncertain whether the body is one of the two missing.

Torrential rains caused flash flooding in some parts of the United States over the last few days, and led to numerous evacuations in southeast Texas, including two prisons.

Texas began Sunday to evacuate about 2,600 inmates from the two facilities near the Brazos River.

According to local TV station ABC13, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said that the Terrell and Stringfellow units in Rosharon, south of Houston, began evacuations on Sunday morning, while inmates at the Ramsey Unit trusty camp will be moved into the main prison building.

Meantime, in Huntersville, a city in southeast Texas and has the headquarters of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, an emergency command center has been set up to deal with high water breaching the banks of the Brazos River.

Heavy storms hitting southeast Texas over the past days have flooded roads, damaged homes and closed schools. The weather service has warned that heavy rain is expected to come next Wednesday and Thursday.

Harris County officials on Saturday asked about 750 families in the Northwood Pines subdivision to evacuate. Officials also warned residents in areas north of Houston that rising waters were likely to flood homes, even those that are elevated.

A tornado on Thursday afternoon touched down in Bryan, a city about 160 kilometers northwest of Houston, uprooting trees and damaging some homes, which prompted Bryan's mayor to declare a local state of disaster.

In the northern part of Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, heavy rains delayed a number of flights and several others were canceled at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport. Some school districts have decided to cancel or delay classes on Friday in the wake of severe storms.

Houston on Thursday opened its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and increased its flood readiness level to three, which means firefighters and police are preparing for potential rescues of people from high water. The scale has four levels, with four being the lowest and one being the highest.

Officials also have boats and high-water vehicles prepared for rescue calls. City officials are working with police and firefighters to coordinate emergency responses.
 [Xinhua -]

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