AUSTIN (KXAN) - One man is dead and several other people are being rescued afterrain and deadly floods hit the Comal County area on Wednesday,officials said.
The man, Norman Walker of Iowa Park, Texas, died in theGuadalupe River. According to the City of New Braunfels, Walker,65, was camping in the area of HuecoSprings in Comal County when the river began to rise. Walkerwas trapped.
STARFlight video of the flooding
Five Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens and onegame warden captain were assisting Comal County authorities in highwater rescues. Here's a video of one rescue posted on YouTube:
By mid-afternoon, storms appeared to have cleared the area,moving to the east.
An area man also saved an 11-year-old girl who was washed from acamp zone north of Gruene, six miles up the river from NewBraunfels, after being in the river for some two hours. She waswearing a life vest, most likely because she was swimming at thetime, the man tells KXAN.
Both the girl and her rescuer are safe. The man's home was underwater, he said, and has sustained heavy damage. His wife woke himup in their home on the river to alert him to the rising water, andwhen he went outside, he heard the young girl yelling for help - sohe jumped in and saved her.
An elderly New Braunfels couple survived the storm after wakingup Wednesday morning to find two feet of water in their home.
"We were going to ride it out and some guys came in a boat andsaid no you're not- you're going to go with us," said Mary LeeMaxwell, 86.
Austin police were sending a five-person rescue crew to help onWednesday afternoon.
New Braunfels Mayor Bruce Boyer and Lt. John Wells of the NBPolice Department gave the following updates in a noon newsconference:
- Emergency Declaration has been issued for Guadalupe and Comal Rivers. Area rivers have been closed.
- Crews are getting help from San Marcos and San Antonio Fire Departments.
- More than 800 emergency dispatch calls received, and about 100 were for evacuation or rescue.
- Reverse 911 reached 368 homes asking people to evacuate, though most already had evacuated.
- The waters are starting to recede, but the area is still in an emergency situation due to down power lines and debris.
- Officials are asking people to stay home unless it is necessary for them to venture out.
- City asks that only serious emergencies be used for 911 to keep the lines open for people needing rescues
- STARFlight and the Texas Department of Public Safety are in helicopters looking for people needing help
- The city began preparing crews on Tuesday in anticipation of the floods
- Teams of city employees will be sent out to do damage assessment as soon as possible
Heavy thunderstorms continued early Wednesday, hitting NewBraunfels particularly hard - with flooding, water and treerescues, and mobile homes washing out in the rains.
Among the businesses wiped out by rushing water was Rockin' R RiverRides. The building that houses the main headquarters wasdesigned to withstand a flood and it worked. The structure was notcompromised, but water rose six feet on the bottom floor anddestroyed thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.
The metal raft and tube rental structure near the banks of theGuadalupe River collapsed. Dozens of old school buses, used toshuttle customers, were wrapped around trees and scattered acrossthe 10-acre piece of property. Manager Shane Wolf said the goal isto get the business back up and running in ten to fifteen days.
A section of Schlitterbahn Waterparkwas underwater. A spokesperson said a portion of the park would beback open Thursday at 10 a.m. and cost of admission will bereduced.
STARFlight has helicopters in that area helping local crews withrescues. The Comal County Red Cross opened a shelter at
Texas park wardens rescued one man who had been trapped in histruck at a low water crossing, as well as several others in theLake Dunlap area, said Capt. Danny Villalobos of the Texas Parksand Wildlife Department.
Villalobos said numerous recreational vehicles had washeddownstream from the New Braunfels area, and that wardens would beworking with Comal County deputies and other officers to make sureno one had been trapped in any of those trailers.
A team of Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens participated inrescue efforts with local authorities. Gov. Rick Perry also hasdirected the activation of state search and rescue capabilities dueto the heavy flooding. State resources being activated includedfive Texas military forces high-profile vehicles in SanAntonio; two Texas military forces UH-60 Blackhawkhelicopters; and three swift water rescue teams based in NewBraunfels .
The State Operations Center remains at an increased readinesslevel and continues to work with the National Weather Service tomonitor the storm system.
In addition, all summer school and student-related activities inthe New Braunfels Independent School District will be canceledWednesday due to the weather. This includes summer school for theelementary and secondary grades.
Parents should check with the district later Wednesday to see ifclasses will be canceled Thursday.
Most of Schlitterbahn amusement park will be back open Thursdaymorning at 10 a.m. A team will be cleaning up all night. Admissionprices will be discounted. 'Surf n Burg' was the only areaunderwater.
Meanwhile, 20 miles east of Austin in Elgin, lightning struckthe Elgin Police Department just after 6am - temporarily knockingout some server equipment and their 911 console. While the 911server was down, calls were diverted to Bastrop. The service wasworking again this morning.
An upper-level, low-pressure system is interacting with abundantlow-level moisture to spark the storms. The low system will slowlytrek to the northeast.
Rain chances will continue Wednesday evening and throughThursday afternoon.
The NationalWeather Service issued flash flood warnings for Williamson,Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Lee counties. Doppler estimatedrainfall amounts Wednesday morning were between 2- to 4 inches,though up to 6 inches of rain is possible.
Multiple low water crossings have closed in Austin, includingseveral along Spicewood Springs Road. Bull Creek at Loop 360 isabove flood stage.
Use an alternate route and remember TurnAround Don’t Drown. Law enforcement reported closed roadsin Kyle. Several roads are closed in San Marcos and in NewBraunfels.
Meanwhile, the low water crossing near CR100 near Georgetown hadone foot of water flowing over, it according to law enforcement andwas barricaded.
High water is reportedly over the roadway along State Highway 79just outside Gause,Texas, which is about
In San Marcos, there are reports of a house in a foot of waterat 4913Red Wood Road.
One of the hardest hit areas is eastern Comal County, where 4inches of rain fell in six hours in New Braunfels.
NWS officials said the slow-moving thunderstorm that was overCentral Comal County is drifting eastward toward New Braunfels,where major flooding is expected to impact the city throughout thenext few hours. Rainfall rates are estimated at 3- to 4 inches anhour.
The Comal County Sheriff's Office said they have had a couple ofcalls for high-water rescues, citing there has been 12 inches ofwater. Officials said State Highway 46 is open but suggest travelonly if it is to escape high water.
In the meantime, the NewBraunfels Fire Department is opening shelters for people alongthe Comal River.
And 10 inches of rain was reported near Smithson Valley.
Nearby streams and rivers are flooded. Officials arediscouraging travel in the New Braunfels area.
Lower Colorado RiverAuthority officials said they are not planning any flood gatereleases from any of the Highland Lakedams because of flood water. Lake Travis has only received aninch-and-a-half of rain so far.
In Austin, police officials said there were 25 vehicle accidentsbetween 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Wednesday.
For traffic-related incidents in the Austin area, you can checkthe City of Austin website. You can do the same forroad closuresin the area during emergency conditions.
A 15-year-old student at Stony Point High School is in juvenile custody after another student claimed he threatened him with a gun last week.
People who live in the Del Valle neighborhood hit hard by the flooding say they are emotionally drained. Now, they say tow truck drivers may be taking advantage of their hard luck.
The all-new Mac Pro, assembled in Austin, will be available to order starting Thursday.
Texas athletics director Steve Patterson has assembled an eight member advisory panel and will use a representative from an executive recruiting firm to assist in the hiring of a new football coach.
The chairman of a House committee mulling impeachment of embattled University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall says it's a "slap in the face" that he refuses to testify.
On Monday Austin-Travis County's 911 call system was down for 5 1/2 hours. That system failure forced emergency calls to be sent to surrounding cities, including Pflugerville and Round Rock.