OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Record-breaking rainfall and ensuing flooding in Oklahoma led to at least one death, officials confirmed Tuesday, a day after several dramatic rescues of people who took treetops and roofs to escape swift-moving waters.
A man who drove onto a submerged street drowned after being swept away while trying to push his stalled car off the roadway in Lawton, Comanche County Emergency Management Director Chris Killmer said. The body of Miguel Lopez, 50, was found lodged against a bridge over a canal, Lawton police Chief Rick Smith said.
Fire officials in Oklahoma City and the nearby suburb of Edmond launched more than 60 swift-water rescues after thunderstorms dumped as much as 10 inches of rain in some areas in a matter of hours. More rain fell Monday night, and the National Weather Service said the 7.62 inches at Will Rogers International Airport in Oklahoma City topped the previous record of 7.53 inches set on Sept. 22, 1970.
One boat carrying rescuers in Oklahoma City sank just as it reached a 17-year-old girl, forcing firefighters to take to treetops and await help themselves.
Raquel Dawson said during network television interviews early Tuesday that she was walking to work on Monday and about to give up and go back home when she saw a woman trying to get away from her car in floodwaters. Miss Dawson said she helped the woman get to some nearby trees, then decided to try and swim for help.
That’s when the current swept her away.
“I didn’t think the water was nearly as deep as it was,” Miss Dawson said. “I just thought it was maybe knee-deep.”
Fire Lt. Joe Smith, one of the rescuers, said it was the first time he’d needed rescuing.
“It didn’t feel very good,” Lt. Smith said. “I like to be in control of the action.”
The heaviest rainfall was reported across sections of northern Oklahoma City, forcing the closure of some roads and interstates. Creeks and rivers toppled their banks, and strong currents ripped asphalt from roadways and blew manhole covers from pipes.
Betty Diehl was house-sitting at her daughter’s home in Oklahoma City when a river of water came down the road.
“The street was rolling,” Ms. Diehl said. “I watched it out the window. I said, ‘You could take a boat out there.’”
Mr. Diehl said her daughter’s home, like others in the neighborhood, has suffered through several severe weather events in the past six months — a December blizzard, a May hailstorm and now flooding.View Entire Story
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