Record rainfall was wreaking havoc across a swath of the U.S. Midwest on Sunday, causing flash floods in normally dry riverbeds, spawning tornadoes and forcing at least 2,000 people to flee.
Tornados struck, severely damaging an apartment complex in Houston, Texas. A firefighter in Oklahoma was swept to his death while trying to rescue 10 people in high water. And the body of a man was recovered from a flooded area along the Blanco River, which rose 26 feet in just one hour and left piles of wreckage 20 feet high, authorities in Texas said.
“It looks pretty bad out there,” said Hays County emergency management coordinator Kharley Smith, describing the destruction in Wimberley, part of a fast-growing corridor between Austin and San Antonio. “We do have whole streets with maybe one or two houses left on them and the rest are just slabs,” she said.
More than 350 homes in the town of Wimberley were washed away by the flash floods, and several people remained missing. Kenneth Bell, the emergency management coordinator in nearby San Marcos, said the damage in Hays County alone amounts to “millions of dollars.”
Authorities also warned people to honor a night-time curfew and stay away from damaged areas, since more rain was on the way, threatening more floods with the ground saturated and waterways overflowing.