- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (AP) Floodwaters that devastated the San Antonio area spilled into more houses yesterday as it flowed toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Severe flooding also hit the Abilene area, about 150 miles to the northwest, following a surprise storm that dumped a foot of rain Saturday.
About 75 miles to the southeast, residents of Brownwood frantically piled sandbags around homes and businesses yesterday as water rushed through downtown. Lake Brownwood was 7.65 feet above its spillway yesterday and was expected to crest higher overnight a foot or more.
In south-central Texas, where more than 30 inches of rain fell in places last week, water levels were dropping in the Hill Country areas north of San Antonio yesterday.
The flooding had been blamed for at least eight deaths and tens of millions of dollars in property damage. In some places, the rivers had crested 28 feet above flood stage.
In areas where evacuees were returning, the overflowing rivers were still a threat, said William Ayres, a spokesman for the Texas Division of Emergency Management in Austin.
"It's still a very dangerous situation," Mr. Ayres said yesterday.
Steve Dean returned to his house on the bank of the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels yesterday, and to his surprise found only a little water on the floor. The house stands on reinforced stilts rising from the foundation of a house destroyed by the record flood of 1998.
"It's not as bad as what we thought," said Mr. Dean, whose neighbors' homes were carried away by the river on Friday and Saturday. "I thought when the water started getting up higher, it would take [the house] off those concrete columns."
The Guadalupe and other rivers originating in the Hill Country were flooding cities and croplands across a low-lying coastal plain leading to the Gulf of Mexico yesterday.
Large numbers of cattle were believed to be isolated or drowned along the San Antonio River, which was expected to crest today at Goliad about 30 feet above flood stage. The river flows south from the city of San Antonio through a broad expanse of crop and ranch land before emptying into the Guadalupe River near the Gulf.
In Abilene, where in one day about half the city's usual annual rainfall fell, residents had scrambled to get out of their homes as several creeks cutting through the city became torrents.
Even as the water began receding, Abilene authorities were warning residents not to wade or drive through the snake-infested deep water. There was a chance of several more inches of rain yesterday.
"We have been extremely fortunate and extremely pleased that we had no reported injuries. The way people act, it's surprising," said Abilene Police Sgt. Kim Vickers. "They just choose to ignore the warnings and barricades."

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