- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 7, 2002

MICO, Texas (AP) Hundreds of people fled their homes in three small towns as a storm dumped more than a foot of rain yesterday on an area that rarely sees more than 2 feet of rain a year.
In central Texas, the rain was tapering off but floodwater continued to trickle through a crack in a 90-year-old dam and rivers still surrounded homes in a 29-county area.
Families along the Medina River downstream from the dam had been watching anxiously for days, and many had packed belongings and left the area for fear water might break through.
Yesterday, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission spokesman Elston Johnson gave them the good news: "It does appear to be safe.
"We don't feel that there will be any problems at this time. There were some questions about the rising of the lake, but that's not occurring at this time," Mr. Johnson said.
Along another swollen river, the Guadalupe, Paul Wukasch stood about 100 yards from his house and watched the water swirl through his front door. He and his wife and four children had started moving out Thursday, taking photo albums, antique furniture and artwork.
"It's all material stuff," he said as the brown, trash-filled water swept past in the town of New Braunfels, northeast of San Antonio. "That's the only way you can look at it."
With thunderstorms and locally heavy rain remaining in the forecast through the middle of next week, it was not clear when the residents would be allowed back home.
Storms yesterday morning also hit another part of Texas with unexpected flooding. About 200 miles to the northwest of Mr. Wukasch's home, as much as a foot of rain fell overnight on land baked dry by an extended drought around Abilene.
Authorities ordered several hundred people to evacuate the nearby towns of Buffalo Gap, Tuscola and Lawn. Abilene's average annual rainfall is about 23 inches.
"It's serious enough," Taylor County Sheriff Jack Dieken said. "We're trying to evacuate some people and keep them out of harm's way."
Statewide, a week of flooding has forced at least 4,000 people to evacuate, killed at least eight persons and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.
The latest death came Friday, when 11-year-old Joey Alejandres was removed from life support five days after he fell into a rain-swollen San Antonio creek. One man, Chris Lewis, 32, remained missing after driving into deep water that had flooded a road south of Boerne on Thursday.
In some places, entire homes floated by stunned bystanders in a current rushing at a rate of about 70,000 cubic feet per second. The Guadalupe's normal flow rate is around 300 cubic feet per second.
Tammy Stanford spent part of Friday helping a neighbor move belongings up to the second floor of her house, and then watched from a bridge as the brown, debris-filled Guadalupe rushed beneath.
"I saw a hot tub go by, and a blue heron standing up on a piece of wood sticking up out of the water," she said.
Some of the debris a meat smoker, deck railings, enough basketballs for an NBA shootaround started its trip upriver in New Braunfels. There, water poured out of manmade Canyon Lake, down a narrow canyon and into the small city northeast of San Antonio.

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