At least two dead amid flash flooding in Texas

FILE PHOTO © Daniel Kramer
Heavy rain across the south-central US has resulted in at least two deaths and one person missing in north Texas, with flood watches in effect as far north as St. Louis. Some areas received four inches of rain overnight as the storm moved northeast.

Rising floodwaters claimed the lives of two motorists who attempted to drive through high water in Johnson County, Texas, according to the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth. In Tarrant County, a sheriff's deputy was rescued by Fort Worth firefighters after she tried to assist a 70-year-old motorist whose car was lifted off a bridge by the flooding.

Deputy Krystal Salazar, 26, was found clinging to a tree two hours after she attempted to rescue the stranded senior, who is currently considered missing. Salazar was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

“For about two hours we assumed the absolute worst,” Terry Grisham, a Tarrant County sheriff’s spokesman told the Star-Telegram. “Then firefighters ran across the deputy downstream holding onto a tree. She had left her gun. She had left her radio to reduce weight so she couldn’t tell us where she was.”

The wet evening in north Texas put the total rainfall for the Dallas/Fort Worth area at more than 55 inches this year, a new record. In addition to north-central Texas, areas of southeastern Oklahoma and western and northern Arkansas are at risk for flash flooding.

Parts of the southern and central plains are also experiencing ice, sleet, and snow. Power outages have been announced or warned of in areas of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

"There's a pretty substantial shield of rain extending from parts of Texas across a lot of Oklahoma and into the mid-Mississippi Valley," John Hart, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, told the Associated Press.

With this holiday weekend storm, cities in the affected area – including Austin and Houston in Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Fort Smith, Arkansas; and St. Louis, Missouri – have reached or could reach yearly rainfall totals that put 2015 within their top ten wettest years on record, the Weather Channel reported.