Two people were killed and three others were missing on Sunday in flash flooding and severe storms in Texas and Oklahoma that forced evacuations and rooftop rescues and left thousands without power.
The National Weather Service reported river flooding across southern Oklahoma and central Texas, where 6 to 9 inches of rain fell overnight. Flash flooding remained a threat on Sunday from central Iowa into southern Texas, where the heaviest rainfall was expected, according to the NWS. Isolated tornadoes and hail were also possible.
“They haven’t seen flooding like this for probably a good decade, probably more like 25 years, even longer, on some of these rivers,” said Kurt Van Speybroeck, a NWS meteorologist based in Fort Worth, Texas.
He said soil in the region was saturated from heavy rainfall over the past three weeks, adding: “We just can’t take any more water.”.
Helicopters rescued people off rooftops in Hays County in central Texas.
More than 1,000 people were rescued or evacuated from 400 homes, county officials reported on Sunday.
“Never in our wildest imagining did we think about the wall of water that would some so quickly or cause so much destruction,” Judge Bert Cobb of Hays County told a morning news conference.
Local officials at an afternoon news conference reported that three people were missing, and debris piles were nearly 20 feet high. An unidentified man was found dead from the flooding in San Marcos, a police spokeswoman said.
The county, which includes the small cities of Wimberley and San Marcos, about an hour’s drive north of San Antonio, ordered a Sunday night curfew for residents.
In nearby Luling, Texas, the rising San Marcos River threatened to flood homes, a state park and a golf course, the NWS reported.
In Oklahoma, which also saw weekend flooding, a firefighter died overnight in Claremore, about 30 miles northeast of Tulsa.
Captain Jason Farley, a 20-year veteran of the department, had been responding to a call to help about 10 people trapped in their homes by floodwater, said Claremore Fire Chief Sean Douglas. Farley was swept into a storm drain and died.
Another firefighter who rushed to his aid was also swept into a drain but survived with minor injuries, he said.
“It is a tragic event and a devastating loss for us,” Douglas said.
Dozens of streets were closed, and the Red Cross had opened shelters.