Parts of Texas recovering after weeks of rain, floods
Dallas — Most of Texas was set to get its first period of extended sunshine in weeks, allowing surging rivers to recede as emergency-management officials turn their attention to cleanup efforts in such places as Houston, where damage estimates top $45 million.
Parts of the state were finally beginning to recover Sunday from weeks of rain and flooding that have made Texas a place of extremes: severe drought conditions earlier in the year that have given way to unprecedented rainfall in some areas.
At least 31 people have been killed in storms that began in Texas and Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend. Twenty-seven of the deaths have been in Texas, and at least 10 people were still missing over the weekend.
The plentiful sun forecast for much of the state this week was expected to allow engorged rivers such as the Trinity in North and East Texas, the Brazos southwest of Houston and Nueces in South Texas to flush massive volumes of water into the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 10 inches of rain has fallen during the last 30 days across nearly the entire central and eastern portion of the state — from the Texas Panhandle to the Mexico border.
Isolated areas have received 15 to more than 20 inches.
“It’s looking like there won’t be any additional rain this week and that’s good news,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Reilly in Houston.
The bad news, forecasters warn, is that the ground remains saturated and rivers and lakes swollen headed into tropical storm season, which begins Monday.
“We are more vulnerable now than we were before the rain,” Reilly said.
Water authorities near Houston and elsewhere in the state in the coming days have to release rising water from reservoirs but be mindful of flooding that could result along downstream tributaries that are already running over their banks.
In the Houston area alone, preliminary damage estimates show the flooding from torrential rains will cost at least $45 million, according to Francisco Sanchez with the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
There was more than $25 million in damage to public utilities and infrastructure, he said, and the cost to remove storm debris from bayous, flooded neighborhoods and elsewhere is about $15 million.
There’s another $4.5 million in damage to buildings and equipment.
There are about 1,500 homes in Harris County, including those in Houston, with some level of flood damage, and this number will increase as damage-assessment teams canvass the region, he said.
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