Forecast clears up for inundated Plains

/ Source: The Associated Press

After weeks of flooding, the weather pattern that has inundated Texas and the Southern Plains has taken a change for the better, a meteorologist said Monday.

The storms that have caused widespread flooding appeared to be scattering, and the threat of new flooding has been reduced significantly, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Martello said. He said the low pressure systems that produced heavy rain for a month across Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas had moved off.

Still, a late round of rain over the weekend flooded some central Texas homes in low-lying areas of Hico, about 100 miles southwest of Dallas. No injuries were reported, but some major roads into the town were closed.

Smith County officials also made a new disaster declaration Sunday night, saying flooding had caused about $200,000 worth of damage to their eastern Texas county.

"We still have areas that are dangerous," county Commissioner Bill McGinnis told KLTV of Tyler. "We have barricaded those off. We beg people not to go around those barricades because it is just so extremely dangerous to do that."

Millions of dollars of damage
Rivers in Kansas and Oklahoma have been receding from record flood crests, revealing millions of dollars in damage to thousands of homes and businesses, in addition to the 1,000 or so damaged in central and northern Texas.

At least 17 deaths, most in Texas, have been blamed on storms and flooding that have plagued the southern Plains since early June.

In Miami, Okla., one of the hardest-hit areas, City Manager Mike Spurgeon said officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency told him that 647 structures in the Ottawa County town had been affected by flooding from the Neosho River and Tar Creek, including 236 considered destroyed.

In Texas, the search for a 26-year-old man missing since his raft capsized on the rain-swollen Trinity River near Fort Worth also resumed Monday morning, said Kent Worley, spokesman for the Fort Worth Fire Department. Teams had shifted their search from a rescue mission to a recovery, Worley said.

"The water has gone down, but it's still fairly swift. It's still fairly rapid," he said.