ENVIRONMENT
05/25/2015 05:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Storms Rock Texas, Plains, Midwest And Mexico Border

CIUDAD ACUNA, Mexico (AP) — A tornado raged through a city on the U.S.-Mexico border Monday, destroying homes, flinging cars like matchsticks and ripping an infant from its mother's arms. At least 13 people were killed, authorities said.

In Texas, 12 people were reported missing after the vacation home they were staying in was swept away by rushing floodwaters in a small town popular with tourists.

The baby was also missing after the twister that hit Ciudad Acuna, a city of 125,000 across from Del Rio, Texas, sent its infant carrier flying. Rescue workers began digging through the rubble of damaged homes in a race to find victims.

The twister hit a seven-block area, which Victor Zamora, interior secretary of the northern state of Coahuila, described as "devastated."

Mayor Evaristo Perez Rivera said 300 people were being treated at local hospitals, and up to 200 homes had been completely destroyed. Three people were unaccounted for.

"There's nothing standing, not walls, not roofs," said Edgar Gonzalez, a spokesman for the city government, describing some of the destroyed homes in a 3-square kilometer (1 square mile) stretch.

By midday, 13 people were confirmed dead — 10 adults and three infants.

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People stand near a destroyed vehicle after a powerful tornado swept past in Ciudad Acuna, northern Mexico, Monday, May 25, 2015. A tornado raged through the city on the U.S.-Mexico border Monday, destroying homes and flinging cars like matchsticks. At least 13 people were killed, authorities said. The twister hit a seven-block area, which Victor Zamora, interior secretary of the northern state of Coahuila, described as "devastated." (AP Photo)

Hundreds of people were being treated at local hospitals, authorities said, and as many as 800 homes had been destroyed, with thousands more damaged.

"There's nothing standing, not walls, not roofs," said Edgar Gonzalez, a spokesman for the city government, describing some of the destroyed homes in a 3-square kilometer (1 square mile) stretch.

By midday, 13 bodies had been recovered — 10 adults and three infants.

Family members and neighbors gathered around a pickup truck where the bodies of a woman and two children were laid out in the truck's bed, covered with sheets. Two relatives reached down to touch the bodies, covered their eyes and wept.

Photos from the scene showed cars with their hoods torn off, resting upended against single-story houses. One car's frame was bent around the gate of a house. A bus was seen flipped and crumpled on a roadway.

The twister struck not long after daybreak, around the time buses were preparing to take children to school, Zamora said.

In the U.S., the weather system dumped record rainfall on parts of the Plains and Midwest, spawning tornadoes and causing major flooding that forced at least 2,000 Texans from their homes. A vacation house in Texas was swept away by a rain-swollen river.

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Damaged homes stand next to others that were razed when a powerful tornado touched down in Ciudad Acuna, northern Mexico, Monday, May 25, 2015. The tornado raged through the city on the U.S.-Mexico border Monday, destroying homes and flinging cars like matchsticks. At least 13 people were killed, authorities said. The twister hit a seven-block area, which Victor Zamora, interior secretary of the northern state of Coahuila, described as "devastated." (AP Photo)

The storms were blamed for three deaths Saturday and Sunday, including two in Oklahoma and one in Texas, where a man's body was recovered from a flooded area along the Blanco River, which rose 26 feet in an hour and created huge piles of debris.

The line of heavy weather was expected to linger over a large swath of the region Monday.

Among the worst-affected communities were Wimberley and San Marcos, which are in Central Texas along the Blanco River in the corridor between Austin and San Antonio.

"It looks pretty bad out there," Hays County emergency management coordinator Kharley Smith said of Wimberley, where an estimated 350 to 400 homes were destroyed. "We do have whole streets with maybe one or two houses left on them and the rest are just slabs."

About 1,000 homes were damaged throughout Hays County. Five San Marcos police cars were washed away, and the firehouse was flooded, said Kristi Wyatt, a spokeswoman for San Marcos.

Rivers swelled so quickly that whole communities awoke Sunday surrounded by water. The Blanco crested above 40 feet — more than triple its flood stage of 13 feet. The river swamped Interstate 35 and forced parts of the busy north-south highway to close. Rescuers used pontoon boats and a helicopter to pull people out.

After a surge of mud and water flooded their cottage in Wimberley, John and Valerie Nelson fled through waist-deep waters in darkness early Sunday with transformers sparking and trees crashing around them. The single-story house had been carefully rebuilt on stilts so that it would be able to withstand even the worst flooding.

"I'm absolutely dumbfounded," said Valerie Nelson, who has owned the property for about 50 years. "I didn't think the water would ever get that high."

Hundreds of trees along the Blanco were uprooted or snapped, and they collected in piles of debris that soared 20 feet high.

"We've got trees in the rafters," said Cherri Maley, the property manager of a house where the structure's entire rear portion collapsed with the flooding, carrying away furniture.

"We had the refrigerator in a tree," she said. "I think it's a total loss."

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A tornado briefly touched down Sunday in Houston, damaging rooftops, toppling trees, blowing out windows and sending at least two people to a hospital. Fire officials said 10 apartments were heavily damaged and 40 others sustained lesser damage.

Dallas faced severe flooding from the Trinity River, which was expected to crest near 40 feet Monday and lap at the foundations of an industrial park. The Red and Wichita rivers also rose far above flood stage.

The recent rainfall may officially end the drought that has gripped the region for years, according to Forrest Mitchell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office in Norman, Oklahoma. He said many lakes and reservoirs are full.

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frame was literally bent around the gate of a house. A bus was seen flipped and crumpled on a roadway.

Ciudad Acuna is a city of about 100,000 across the border from Del Rio, Texas.

Cano said top state officials had set out to review the damage and coordinate response to the disaster.

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7:30 a.m. CDT

An evacuation order has been lifted for people living near a reservoir north of Houston after weather improved and work crews made progress shoring up threatened areas along a levee weakened by recent heavy rains.

Montgomery County authorities allowed residents back into their homes in neighborhoods near the Lewis Creek Reservoir late Sunday evening.

County Judge Craig Doyal said he regrets the inconvenience that several hundred residents may have experienced, but he says the decision to order evacuations early Sunday was made based on weather forecasts at the time and in the interest of public safety.

The reservoir serves an Entergy power plant about 50 miles north of Houston. Officials have reported no breaches.

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1 a.m. CDT

A line of storms stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes dumped record rainfall on parts of Texas, Oklahoma and other Plains and Midwest states.

The weekend storms spawned a tornado that damaged a Houston apartment complex and caused major flooding that forced at least 2,000 Texans from their homes.

Authorities are blaming three deaths on the storms. Two were in Oklahoma and the last was in Texas, where a man's body was found along the swollen Blanco River.

Among the worst-affected communities are Wimberley and nearby San Marcos in the Central Texas corridor between San Antonio and Austin. Many homes in those communities were damaged or destroyed.

More rain is in the forecast for Monday for a large swath of the nation's midsection.

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Tornado In Ciudad Acuna
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