18 Dead, 13 Missing Due to Texas and Oklahoma Storm System
HOUSTON, May 27 (UPI) — At least 18 people have been killed and 13 are still missing in Texas and Oklahoma due to the storm system that caused historic flooding and devastated parts of Houston.
Rescue efforts are ongoing as more rain is predicted in Texas between Wednesday and Sunday.
Bodies are being found as floodwaters slowly recede in Texas. At least five people died and two are missing in Houston, where more than 11 inches of rain fell in the last day.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker said more than 4,000 properties were severely damaged.
“The defining feature of Houston is the small rivers that run through the city,” Parker said. “Many of them went over their banks and began to flood neighborhoods.”
The first fatality reported in Houston was Nahid Konsol, a Krogrer grocery store employee who was on her way to work early Tuesday morning. Her truck became submerged as she drove through an underpass.
Pastors at a nearby church saw her and called 911, but she was found dead when a parishioner eventually swam to the truck.
“We are mourning the loss of our longtime employee Nihad Konsul. She was a member of the Kroger family for 35 years,” Kroger said in a statement. “We extend our support to her husband and family.”
Another Houston victim, 66-year-old oil and gas executive Dennis Callahan, pushed his flooded car out of the water when he was close to his home, but died of a heart attack as he was helping push a woman’s car out of the water.
“That’s what kills me is he was literally a block away from his home,” his son, Michael Callahan, told ABC 13 Eyewitness News.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he plans to issue a Declaration of Disaster for Harris County, where Houston is located, after he took an aerial tour surveying the damage.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett welcomed the decision.
“That should put us over the limit where not only public buildings and entities can get help, but individuals who are not insured or those who are under-insured can suddenly get this federal help,” Emmett said. “This is about helping those people who have lost a lot in this storm. Even though it was a one-day event, it was a very serious event for those that were hit.”
The storm and flooding has left some citizens reeling.
“We’ve seen flooding before, but not nearly to this extreme,” Gage Mueller, a Houston resident for about 40 years, told CNN. “It rains and it rains and it rains, and there’s really nowhere for the water to go… It’s ridiculous.”
In other parts of Texas, three people died and 11 are missing in Hays County and four others are reported dead in four other separate counties.
Six people have died in Oklahoma since the storm began, including a firefighter who was performing a water rescue.
The same storm system created a six-second tornado that killed at least 13 people, including three children, and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in Ciudad Acuña in Mexico’s Coahuila state.
The tornado reached speeds of up to 186 mph. Most of the people who died were walking about on the streets of the city when it struck.