Texas Flooding: Obama Signs Disaster Declaration, More Rain Expected
HOUSTON, May 30 (UPI) — President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for Texas after weeks of flooding, opening the state to federal aid in the recovery efforts.
At least 24 people have died in Texas where unrelenting rain has led to deadly flash floods. Two bodies found were identified as 6-year-old Andrew McComb and 73-year-old Dr. Ralph Hugh Carey. Both were swept away with seven others staying in a vacation home in Wimberley, Texas. Five others who were in the home are still missing.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot declared a state of disaster in 70 counties, which opens state resources for storm response. More rain is expected Saturday.
“The large number of Texas counties currently experiencing a state of disaster is an indication of how severe this ongoing weather situation is, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for everyone to heed local officials’ warnings,” Abbott said in a written statement. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected, and I strongly urge all Texans to take all precautions to protect themselves and their families and neighbors.”
The president’s action makes federal assistance available to residents in hard hit Harris, Hays, and Van Zandt counties. Assistance includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans for uninsured property losses.
Earlier this week, the president also signed a disaster declaration for Oklahoma, where six people have been confirmed dead from the flooding. The same storms also brought devastating flooding to northern Mexico, leaving at least 42 dead.
Texas officials said they found at least two more bodies in the past 24 hours, including the body of Raul Velazquez-Valentin, who had been wade fishing with two friends.
“Because of all of the rain, the current’s real bad right now,” Freeport police Capt. Ray Garivey said. “We’re encouraging everyone to stay away from beach and river. You just can’t see hidden things that are under water. The rain we’ve had in the last two weeks has just changed everything.”
More storms are expected to pummel the area through Sunday, dropping another several inches on the already saturated ground. By Monday, parts of Texas may see glimpses of the sun.