A tornado ripped through a city on the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday, killing 13 people as first responders in Central Texas searched for a dozen people believed to be missing after the vacation home they were staying in was swept away in torrential flooding.
The Texas cities of San Marcos and Wimberley suffered extensive damage as severe storms displaced more than 2,000 residents throughout the state, leaving 12 missing in Hays County.
The search for the missing came as the Mexican city of Ciudad Acuna was devastated by a twister at daybreak Monday. Officials in Mexico said at least 13 were killed in the tornado, the Associated Press reported. The city, population 100,000, is across the border from Del Rio, Texas.
The grim toll comes as a line of storms this weekend have wreaked havoc from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes.
Three deaths were blamed on the storms Saturday and Sunday, including two in Oklahoma and one in Texas, where a man’s body was recovered from a flooded area along the Blanco River, which rose 26 feet in an hour and created huge piles of debris.
In Central Texas, the hardest-hit communities were Wimberley and San Marcos, which are along the Blanco River between Austin and San Antonio. More rain is in the forecast for Central Texas on Monday.
“It looks pretty bad out there,” Hays County emergency management coordinator Kharley Smith said of Wimberley. “We do have whole streets with maybe one or two houses left on them, and the rest are just slabs.”
San Marcos emergency coordinator Ken Bell told reporters Monday that responders were still finding stranded people.
“We still have people who are on little islands,” Bell said.
Joe McComb, of Corpus Christi, told KIII-TV that his son, Jonathan, was seriously hurt when a home his family was staying in was swept away by extreme flooding near Wimberley. McComb’s two grandchildren and daughter-in-law are still missing. Four adults and a 4-year-old boy from another family that were with the McComb family are also missing near Wimberley, KXAN-TV reported.
They were identified as Ralph Carey, his wife, Sue, Randy and Michelle Charba, along with their son, Will. Michelle Charba is Ralph and Sue Carey’s adult daughter.
“Right now it’s still a state of shock,” McComb said. “We’re a family of faith. It’s in the Lord’s hands. We believe in miracles, but we also believe in reality. We are praying for the best. We hope Jonathan has a quick and painless recovery, and we hope they find Laura and the children and the many others that I’m sure are going through the same thing as a result of this flood.”
McComb received the news as he and his wife were in Maui, Hawaii, celebrating their 44th wedding anniversary. They are now trying to catch a flight back to Texas to be with their son, who is at a hospital in San Antonio recovering from a broken sternum, broken rib and a collapsed lung.
McComb said his son’s family was staying at a river house with other couples in the Wimberley area when a wall of water took the home off its foundation.
The Carey family’s church in Corpus Christi held a prayer service Sunday.
“Gracious God, we lift up our friends to you in their time of need,” the church wrote in a message on its Facebook page. “We pray for you to wrap in your loving arms Ralph, Sue, Michelle, Randy, Will, Laura, Jonathan, Andrew and Leighton and all others affected by the flooding. We pray for protection, safety, healing and that they be found safely.”
The missing are from families who had gathered for the long weekend and likely include children, Bell said.
Gov. Greg Abbott, who declared 24 counties disaster areas, took an aerial tour of the damage in Central Texas on Monday and described the devastation as “absolutely massive.”
Five San Marcos police cars were washed away, and the fire house was flooded. The city imposed a 9 p.m. curfew Sunday, and officials said they would again impose a curfew Monday night. Bell urged people to stay away from the area.
Hays County officials estimated that as many as 1,300 homes were damaged by the storms and that at least 67 were destroyed.
“I know some people want to see their properties — some of that brings some closure,” Bell said. “We’d prefer right now that they don’t even try.”
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SOURCE: USA Today – Aamer Madhani