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Flood threat persists in San Antonio after 2 killed

10:16 AM, May 26, 2013   |    comments
Marco Fairchild, left, and Gary Garza, right, help Sueann Schaller from her car Saturday, in San Antonio after she drove it into floodwaters.(Photo: AP/Lisa Krantz, San Antonio Express-News)
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(USA TODAY) -- Two women died after being swept away by floodwaters after weekend rains deluged numerous roads in San Antonio, forcing more than 235 rescues by emergency workers who aided stranded motorists and homeowners at times using inflatable boats.

At least one teenage boy also was reported missing after Saturday's torrential rains, carried away while trying to cross the swollen Cibolo Creek in the San Antonio suburb of Schertz, authorities said.

The National Weather Service said the flash flood threat would persist until late Sunday morning though mostly cloudy weather with occasional thunderstorms and showers was expected to give way to partly sunny skies later in the day.

The rains left more than 200 residents of the Texas city stranded in cars and homes when water rose unexpectedly up to 4 feet in some spots. Traffic also was snarled, making driving difficult.

"It was pretty crazy," Gera Hinojosa, a valet parking cars downtown after the storm, told The Associated Press. "It was pretty unexpected. We hardly got any warning about it."

San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Christian Bove told the AP that a 29-year-old woman was trapped in her car, got on the roof and was swept away in floodwaters. Her body was later found against a fence.

A second woman's body was recovered hours after her car was swept away as firefighters tried to save her. The rising waters rolled the car over before they could pull the 60-year-old woman free, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

"They were in the midst of getting her out when the currents changed and washed that vehicle away," San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told KSAT 12 News.
Albert Rios holds a beer as he floats into the intersection of Castleridge Dr. and Crestfield Street, Saturday, in San Antonio.
Albert Rios holds a beer as he floats into the intersection of Castleridge Dr. and Crestfield Street, Saturday, in San Antonio. AP/Lisa Krantz, San Antonio Express-News
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Albert Rios holds a beer as he floats into the intersection of Castleridge Dr. and Crestfield Street, Saturday, in San Antonio.
Marco Fairchild, left, and Gary Garza, right, help Sueann Schaller from her car Saturday, in San Antonio after she drove it into floodwaters.
Flood waters cover eight lanes of Highway 281, Saturday, in San Antonio.
The Olmos Basin Municipal Golf Course and Basse Road in San Antonio are underwater Saturday as a result of heavy rains in San Antonio.
A San Antonio metro bus sits in floodwaters after it was swept off the road during heavy rains, Saturday.
A kayaker pulls a raft with children around a flooded baseball park in San Antonio, Saturday.

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A Wilson County judge issued an evacuation order Saturday evening for those living along the San Antonio River, which is expected to crest around 60 feet sometime early Sunday morning and to recede sometime Sunday afternoon.

By Saturday afternoon, the San Antonio International Airport had recorded nearly 10 inches of rain since midnight. The highest amount reported in that same time frame was 15.5 inches at Olmos Creek at Dresden Drive. Nearly all streams and rivers in the area are flooded as a result of the heavy rains.

Saturday marks the second-wettest day ever recorded in San Antonio, the San Antonio Express-News reported. The wettest day on record is Oct. 17, 1998, when 11.62 inches of rain fell. In that flood, the Guadalupe and San Antonio River basins overflowed, leaving more than 30 people dead, according to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

The 1998 record is likely to stand as the heavy rains have moved east of the city. (Because the gauge at Olmos Creek is not an official weather station, the National Weather Service does not consider it to be a record.)

By Saturday evening, the water was receding in much of San Antonio. However, pools of water could still be seen in some low-lying areas. And several roads were closed, including a major highway that links the suburbs and the city.

As the rain began to move east Saturday, Mayor Julian Castro urged motorists to stay off roads.

"Many roads throughout the city continue to be impassable and dangerous," he said in a statement. "Just because it's not raining at the moment, does not mean that the threat has passed."

It is not known how much the rainfall will impact drought in the region because much of it will run off into creeks and rivers, NWS meteorologist Pat McDonald told the Express-News.

"Hopefully, it will help, but it will take us a week or two weeks for all the data to come in," he said. "It depends on how much soaks into the aquifer."

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