MARBLE FALLS, Texas – More rain fell Thursday in flood-weary parts of Texas, where evacuations were under way and residents were bracing for even more of the constant downpours that have killed 11 people in recent days.
Officials reported calls for dozens of rescues in San Antonio, and hundreds of people were being ordered to leave their homes near the bloated Brazos River in North Texas.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, acting as governor while Gov. Rick Perry is out of the country, surveyed damage Thursday in the lakeside community of Marble Falls, which was drenched by as much as 18 inches of rain early Wednesday. No one was killed, but there were 32 water rescues and widespread damage.
"I haven't seen so much destruction since I was on the ground right after Hurricane Rita," Dewhurst said. "What these folks need is just a break in the rain and a chance to dry out."
In North Texas, rains continued falling west of Fort Worth, and evacuations of about 300 homes were ordered in Parker County as the Brazos River began creeping into some backyards.
Firefighters and National Guard troops went door to door notifying residents of the mandatory evacuation, but some refused to leave, said Lt. Jason Williams of the Parker County firefighters' search and rescue team.
Among those holding out was Donna Thorpe, who said she and her family had been watching the water rise for more than 24 hours and marking it with a measuring stick.
"Every two hours we'd get up and go down and measure," Thorpe said. "Every two hours you get up and go down. You really don't sleep. You're so nervous about it, how quick it can come up."
Overnight rainfall in Central Texas was far short of the 10 inches that were forecast, but more was expected Thursday, and flash flood warnings were in effect. Storm systems near Austin and San Antonio were expected to dump as much as 10 inches Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
Marble Falls, about 40 miles northwest of Austin, took the brunt of the deluge Tuesday and Wednesday, with numerous people stuck on rooftops, in trees and on houses. The city was spared any rain overnight, but a light drizzle fell on and off throughout the day Thursday.
The focus shifted to clean up even as drizzle continued to fall later in the day. Piles of rubble and debris littered street corners and streets were covered in a layer of mud and tree limbs throughout town.
"We're through the crisis point and now we're at the point it's time to roll up our sleeves and get dirty," Mayor Raymond Whitman said.
In Georgetown, north of Austin, three homes containing 10 people were evacuated Thursday morning because of flooding on a branch of the San Gabriel River, said Keith Hutchinson, city spokesman. No injuries were reported.
Authorities also closed several impassable roads in surrounding Williamson County. Some cars stalled in the high water, but the occupants were able to escape without the help of rescue workers, county spokeswoman Connie Watson said.
In San Antonio, 47 streets were closed and there were 39 calls for high-water rescues, although it's unclear how many people were rescued, said Sandy Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for the city Emergency Operations Center.
The heaviest rainfall in the region Thursday was in San Antonio's Bexar County and Comal County, where 3 to 5 inches had fallen since 7 a.m., said National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Lenz.
Whitman said some looting had been reported in flood-damaged areas of Marble Falls Wednesday. Extra police officers were on duty overnight, and no more looting had been reported by Thursday morning, a city spokeswoman said.
Most residents of the town of 7,200 remained without running water after flash floods damaged the city's water plant. Bottled water brought in by state emergency workers was available. State environmental officials were assessing damage to the plant, Dewhurst said.
With more rain on the way, lakefront residents in two subdivisions near Buchanan Dam were advised to evacuate. In one area, about seven families were taken from their homes by helicopter because the roads were not passable.
The Texas National Guard dispatched troops and vehicles to Central Texas, as well as other areas hit by storms from the Oklahoma border to the Rio Grande Valley. About 150 troops and 50 vehicles were mobilized.
The flooding closed three bridges and tore the back wall off a funeral home, Whitman said. Already, as many as 150 homes and businesses were damaged in Marble Falls, city spokeswoman Christine Laine said.
It's the wettest year on record in Austin, with more than 30 inches of rain since January, and Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco and Wichita Falls have received near-record amounts. The rainfall has more than compensated for a drought that gripped much of Texas in 2005-06, Lenz said.