FORT WORTH, Texas – Flood-weary residents of Texas and Oklahoma had no reprieve Friday as more rain fell in a region where two weeks of storms have swollen rivers and lakes beyond their limits.
Thousands of people have been forced from their homes, though some residents were holding out, saying conditions are no worse than floods they've weathered before.
A state of emergency was in place for all of Oklahoma on Friday, and flood watches and warnings were posted for river communities. A flood watch was in effect for 28 counties in Texas, where the storms have been blamed for at least 11 deaths.
The chance of more rain Friday in the affected areas of Texas was more than 60 percent, said Jesse Moore, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Fort Worth.
"The storms are very efficient rain producers, and if you happen to be under one of them you can pick up 1 1/2 or 2 inches an hour," Moore said. "Right now with the ground being saturated, it's all run-off and that causes the flash flooding we've been seeing.
Evacuation orders were issued Thursday for about 2,000 residents near the flood-swollen Brazos River in Parker County. The river was more than 2 feet above its flood stage late Thursday but had gone down nearly a foot by Friday morning. Officials said it could rise again if they open a flood gate to relieve pressure on the Possum Kingdom Lake dam.
In the area about 20 miles south of Weatherford, rescuers used a boat to get four children out of a house, although their grandparents chose to stay, said Janice Stroud, Parker County's assistant emergency management coordinator.
"If people don't want to leave, we can't force them to," she said.
A similar situation is happening along Lake Leon near Eastland, about 90 miles west of Fort Worth. Evacuations were ordered for 150 or so homes this week, and the record-high lake has already flooded dozens of homes. Still, about 25 people refused to leave, said Lt. Sam Williams of the Eastland Fire Department.
"They're in the most dangerous areas," he said Friday. "We certainly are (worried). They've been contacted two or three times to leave."
In Marble Falls, which received 19 inches of rain in a six-hour period the previous day. the flooding damaged as many as 150 homes and businesses and the town's water treatment plant, authorities said. State environmental officials were assessing the damage, and bottled water was delivered for residents.
"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.
Employees worked through the light rainfall to clean up the at Ingram Readymix Inc. plant, which was wrecked by 6 feet of rushing water. Aluminum walls flared from the side of the building, and rubble was piled outside the main office.
"It's not a total loss, but it's pretty much devastating," plant manager Craig Seward 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, the National Weather Service said.
There were no evacuations ordered in Oklahoma, but many people were leaving their homes voluntarily in search of shelter, said Michelann Ooten, spokeswoman for the state Department of Emergency Management.
Numerous people were rescued from high waters on Thursday. In Tulsa, a 10-year-old girl was swept away in a rushing creek, but her mother and another adult pulled her out safely.
"A tragedy was averted," fire Capt. Larry Bowles said. "The message here is to stay away from any kind of floodwater and creeks when they are high."
Rain fell in Oklahoma City for the 17th straight day Friday, three days longer than the previous record, set in 1937. The rain could continue to the middle of next week.