Volunteers search for missing after Central Texas flood
WIMBERLEY, Texas (AP) — A handful of volunteers trudged along the muddy and brush-filled banks of the Blanco River in Central Texas, searching for a group of people still missing days after the vacation house where they were staying was swept away in a massive flood.
A soggy teddy bear caught in a tree provided a stark reminder that children were among the missing. The volunteers, led by Toby Baker, a commissioner with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, marked where the bear was found. They talked about the pajamas the children were wearing the night the river crested.
Baker had come in an unofficial capacity, as a childhood friend of one of the missing. "I've got a young family," he said Friday. "I'd like to think someone would come out and do the same for us."
At least 28 people have been killed in storms that began pummeling Texas and Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend. Twenty-four of the deaths have been in Texas alone, and 11 people were still missing early Saturday. Rivers and lakes around Houston, San Antonio and Dallas have all swelled — and the flooding may not let up, with forecasters predicting more rain this weekend.
A church in Wimberley, a small tourist town about 20 miles northwest from where Baker's group was working, has become a meeting spot for volunteers who've come to help look for the missing in that area.
About 2,000 volunteers have come through this week, and 100 members of an elite search and rescue team have been deployed to the area. Rescue dog teams walked about and a helicopter used the church lawn to take off and land.
Some volunteers have personal connections to the missing; others just want to help. Using rakes and pitchforks, they sift through dense debris along miles of river.
Volunteer Terry Arnold, 59, from Corpus Christi, said he knew some of the missing. But "in Texas we are all family," he added. "And we've got to find those babies."
Official says 3 killed in small plane crash at Plainview
PLAINVIEW, Texas (AP) — Officials say a small plane crashed while leaving an airport in Plainview, killing the three people aboard.
The Federal Aviation Administration said late Friday that the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza crashed while departing from the Hale County Airport around 9:15 p.m. and that local authorities said the plane was destroyed by fire after the crash.
The FAA said according to a flight plan filed by the pilot, the aircraft was flying from Plainview to San Antonio with three people on board.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that Plainview Fire Chief Rusty Powers said three fatalities were confirmed and their names were being withheld until family members were notified.
The FAA said the National Transportation Safety Board would be in charge of the investigation and investigators had been notified.
Obama signs Texas disaster declaration
(AP)- President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for Texas after severe flooding this week.
The White House said Obama declared that he ordered federal aid to supplement other recovery efforts in the area affected by severe weather since May 4.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had earlier requested a presidential disaster declaration to get federal help for the counties affected.
Obama's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Harris, Hays, and Van Zandt counties.
Funding also is available to governments and some nonprofits on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and repairs in Cooke, Gaines, Grimes, Harris, Hays, Navarro, and Van Zandt counties.
Officials in a Texas city about 35 miles southwest of Houston have ordered the evacuation of about 50 flood-threatened homes near the Brazos River.
The city of Rosenberg says the mandatory evacuation took effect at 9 p.m. CDT on Friday.