Texas floods bring rising death toll and displaced, more rain expected
Weeks of torrential rainfall have made it next to impossible for residents of the southwest area of the country to clean up and search for missing loved ones.
I can't remember the last time I saw a full day of sunshine. After several weeks of back-to-back rain showers, I'm starting to question whether Oklahoma is quickly becoming the new Seattle. No matter how gloomy things appear, my town has been one of the lucky ones that hasn't experienced a significant amount of flooding, sinkholes and closed roads that have made it hard for people to continue with life as usual.
My heart goes out to those around Texas who are getting pummeled with rain. I can barely watch the news anymore, as areas like Houston are practically under water. With more heavy rain in the forecast, one can only imagine the disaster that will follow.
CNN reports that more than 20 people have lost their lives in Texas and Oklahoma due to the recent severe weather (14 casualties have been reported in Mexico). "Some of those people were in a home together, celebrating the holidays, and they were swept away in the stormwater," said Kristi Wyatt, a city spokesperson in San Marcos, Texas. "It's just a terrible situation."
NBC News shares the story of several people — including young children — being swept away after floodwaters carried off a vacation home in central Texas. One body has been identified, while the search continues for the rest of the missing.
Residents throughout areas of north and central Texas have been urged to evacuate the area given the forecast for more severe weather. FOX News reveals mandatory evacuations are in place for hundreds of homes around Fort Worth, Texas. With up to 10 inches of rain falling at a time, the National Weather Service anticipates flooding conditions to continue for weeks to come.
In addition to worrying about flash flooding, it also happens to be tornado season, which adds an extra layer of danger into the mix.
Flash flooding is a serious and potentially fatal matter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines the event as heavy rainfall accumulated in a period of time that causes a rapid increase in water. Flash floods have been known to cause mudslides and significant road damage that makes it almost impossible to get or receive help.
The Weather Channel warns that your vehicle can be the biggest danger, as many who try to flee to safety don't realize the depths of the floodwater. Just 6 inches of water can cause your car to stall. FEMA recommends that when faced with a flash flood situation to try to avoid any contact with floodwaters due to contamination, take to higher ground as soon as possible and be extra cautious at night.
Those who wish to help Texas flood victims can do so through donations to a local chapter of the American Red Cross. The city of Wimberley, Texas, has set up a Facebook page that includes ways you can help as well as volunteer dates and locations. The Central Texas Salvation Army is currently accepting donations both online and in person. The Austin Disaster Relief Network provides opportunities to volunteer, donate and sponsor a flood family.