Video: Heavy rains trigger flash floods in Okla.

  1. Closed captioning of: Heavy rains trigger flash floods in Okla.

    >>> matt, thanks. at least one death is being blamed on the worst flooding in oklahoma in a quarter century. the weather channel 's mike seidel is in oklahoma city with the latest on this story. mike, good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, ann. the homeowners here in this subdid subdivision in oklahoma trying to save anything they can follow yesterday's flash flood . back here you can see how high the water got, nearly four feet from this debris line and the homeowners told me they had just enough time to get up into this attic as the waters came rushing in. a dramatic rescue caught on tape as residents of oklahoma city deal with the worst flooding to hit the area in 25 years. swift moving floodwaters stranded motorists and left neighborhoods submerged. dozens of people had to be rescued from their homes.

    >> i got out of bed and my feet were ankle deep in water and it just kept coming up.

    >> reporter: the area was slammed with up to 11 inches of unrelenting rain in a matter of hours, leaving sections of the city and the surrounding region a muddy mess.

    >> my car is gone, my house is gone.

    >> reporter: it will be days if not weeks before trish cooper can clean up her home. torn apart by the rushing water. authorities warn motorists to avoid unnecessary travel.

    >> my car died and i was stuck and the water just started rising.

    >> reporter: sections of interstate along with roadways and bridges were closed throughout the area. many drivers were forced to abandon vehicles and walk through the muddy water . and people weren't the only ones trying to find dry land . flash flooding also threatened to overrun the dam and send water rushing like rapids through a nearby lake.

    >> i wish we had flood insurance , but other than that, we're just glad we got out okay.

    >> reporter: and they had some wild weather here in oklahoma ci city. yesterday the wettest day on record, 7 2/3 inches. christmas eve they dug out of their largest snowstorm on record, over 13 inches. and now i think they're ready for some normal weather, temperatures to get back into the 90s, and the rain chances go down close to zero starting tomorrow as all of this has to be cleaned up and maybe saved and dried out. ann, back to you.

    >> i'm sure that good weather forecast is good news for those people. thanks so much, mike seidel , this morning.

    >>> let he is get a

By Associated Press Writer
updated 6/15/2010 4:47:26 PM ET 2010-06-15T20:47:26

Record-busting 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, said Comanche County Emergency Management Director Chris Killmer. The body of Miguel Lopez, 50, was found lodged against a bridge over a canal, Lawton Police Chief Ronnie Smith said.

Lopez's death was the only fatality reported during Monday's deluge. The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 136 injuries, but none requiring hospitalization.

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.

'We were lucky'
"We were lucky to get the people out of the high-water areas," said Oklahoma City Fire Department Battalion Chief Tommy Iago. "The places we couldn't walk them out, we used boats."

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, and about to give up and go back home Monday, when she saw a woman trying to get away from her car in floodwaters. 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," 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," 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.

'Street was rolling'
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," Diehl said. "I watched it out the window. I said, 'You could take a boat out there.'"

Diehl said her daughter's home, like others in the neighborhood, has suffered through several severe weather events in the last six months — a December blizzard, a May hailstorm and now flooding.

"We've had our share — from ice to hail and now to river," Diehl said.

Fire crews braced for more problems Tuesday, with the forecast calling for more scattered showers.

"The ground is saturated enough," Iago said. "Who knows how much more it can take."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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