Entries in Flooding (47)


Heavy Rainfall Causes Severe Flooding in San Antonio, Texas

iStockphoto/ThinkStock(SAN ANTONIO, Tex.) -- Record rainfall hitting the city of San Antonio, Texas, in the past 24 hours is causing widespread flooding, with at least one confirmed death.

The National Weather Service says the city airport recorded about 10 inches of rain in 12 hours, breaking several records.

“It set a new daily record, not only a daily record, monthly record but it's the second all time record for the city of San Antonio for rainfall in a 24 hour period of time,”  Pat McDonald of the National Weather Service.

The rain has caused significant flooding in some areas, closing roadways and stranding motorists, and leaving thousands of homes without power. Five rivers are overflowing their banks as well.

ABC's Matt Rivers, reporting from San Antonio, says at least 40 homes have had to be evacuated.  “It's just like the scenes you see during hurricanes with people being taken out of their homes on rafts with first responders guiding them to safety,” Rivers said.

Larry Trevino, the emergency manager for San Antonio, says there have been a significant number of high water rescues.

“We've performed probably 20 to 25 actual rescues out in high water intersections so we are urging people to please do not leave their homes,” Trevino said. “There's about 160 calls right now for high water related or water related rescues and incidents.”

One woman is confirmed to have died during the flooding. Few details have been revealed, but authorities believe her car became stuck, and the woman was swept away when she got out of her car.

Despite the tragedy, some are hoping that a little good can be salvaged from the flood. The heavy rain comes on the heels of a multi-year drought in the area.

“This will definitely help,” McDonald said. “Will it break the drought? No one can tell right now because the rain came in at a very fast rate.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Staten Island Residents Plead for Help Three Days After Sandy

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The residents of Staten Island are pleading for help from elected officials, begging for gasoline, food and clothing three days after Sandy slammed the New York City borough.

“We’re going to die! We’re going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!” Donna Solli told visiting officials. “You don’t understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It’s been three days!”

Staten Island was one of the hardest-hit communities in New York City. More than 80,000 residents are still without power. Many are homeless, and at least 19 people died on Staten Island because of the storm.

One of the devastated neighborhoods was overwhelmed by a violent surge of water. Residents described a super-sized wave as high as 20 feet, with water rushing into the streets like rapids.

Staten Island resident Mike Abuzzio’s home is completely gone, with only his floor boards remaining. He, his wife and their two young daughters have been staying with relatives.

“My youngest daughter yesterday said, ‘Daddy, I want to go,’” Abuzzio told ABC News. “I told her, ‘It’s going to be awhile, hon.’ She doesn’t understand. She’s 6.”

In the rubble that was once his home, Abuzzio found one clean, intact plate of Christmas china. He said that plate will be special at Christmastime and will be used specifically for his mother’s cookies.

For 48 hours after the storm, search teams were hunting for two Staten Island brothers, just 2- and 4-years-old. They were swept out of their mother’s arms when waves caused by storm surges crashed into the family’s SUV. Their small bodies were found Thursday at the end of a dead-end street. Their parents were at the scene where the bodies were discovered.

Staten Island officials sounded increasingly desperate Thursday, asking when supplies will arrive. They blasted the Red Cross for not being there when it counted.

“This is America, not a third world nation. We need food, we need clothing,” Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro said Thursday. “My advice to the people of Staten Island is: Don’t donate the American Red Cross. Put their money elsewhere.”

The Red Cross and the National Guard arrived in the area late Tuesday and are distributing food, water and gas – and city officials say things are much better.

Molinaro urged New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday to cancel Sunday’s New York City Marathon. The race’s staging area is on Staten Island and Molinaro said it would be “crazy, asinine,” to have the race after what has happened.

“My God. What we have here is terrible, a disaster,” Molinaro said Wednesday. “If they want to race, let them race with themselves. This is no time for a parade. A marathon is a parade. Now is the time to put your shoulder to the wheel. If they want to prepare for something, let them prepare for the election, not a marathon.”

“Do you realize how many police officers you need for a marathon?” he asked. “There are people looting stores on Midland Avenue. There is looting taking place in the homes on the South Shore that were destroyed. That is where we need the police.”


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hoboken, NJ, Residents Spend Another Night Out in the Cold

Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(HOBOKEN, N.J.) -- As daylight faded in Hoboken, N.J., Wednesday, stranded residents prepared for another long, cold night.

With the power still out, the only lights that could be seen were those of fire trucks, ambulances and National Guard trucks.  Flooded streets that might have been barely passable during the day now posed too many risks for drivers still hoping to reach family and friends in town.

The situation, however, is improving in some parts of Hoboken.  The floodwaters have receded in the past two days and continued to go down overnight, making some roads safe to drive on that only hours before had been unpassable.

With around 25 percent of this New Jersey city across the Hudson River from New York City now underwater, many of its 50,000 residents are without power, and four days after most stores shut down, residents are running low on food.  

In an apartment building at First and Harrison, residents grilled frozen pizza.

"It's scary. We don't have that much food.  I mean, we prepared a little bit," one person said.

Around 10 p.m., a panicked Daniel Rosado managed to receive help from the National Guard to reach his two young cousins, ages 12 and 9, stuck in town.  It was his last hope of reaching them that night.

"My friends tried to help me out, they got stuck too," he said.

Although National Guard trucks drove door to door trying to assist people in need, the wait for some residents became agonizing.  It could be seven to 10 days, residents said, before Hoboken has power again.  The generators that so many are using for power only have so much gas on hand.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


In Flooded Hoboken, NJ, National Guard Rescues Stranded Residents

Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(HOBOKEN, N.J.) -- Across the Hudson River from storm-battered New York City, residents in Hoboken, N.J., waded through near waist-high water with their children and their belongings.

"Our basement got completely flooded," said resident Susie Zuckerman. "The water started gushing through the garage door in our building. We're doing the best we can do. We're not going to leave -- there's nowhere to go."

Superstorm Sandy's massive storm surge flooded the streets of Frank Sinatra's birthplace, where the water has receded 18 inches in the last 24 hours. The usually bustling downtown Hoboken area is now dotted with debris and broken storefronts, as the sound of generators churns.

Over 50,500 people live in the two-square-mile city, and many residents said they were told not to expect power for up to 10 days. In the meantime, Hoboken City Hall was set up as a shelter.

The communal area of one apartment building was jammed with its residents all charging phones, making toast and playing with children as Halloween pumpkins lined the room. City councilman David Mello said he was weighing his options about whether to have his family leave.

"I might get my family out of here, but I'm gonna stick around. This is obviously unparalleled," Mello said. "The biggest concern here is we might run out of gas for the generators. We only have more to last 48 hours. If that runs out, we'll have to evacuate."

The National Guard arrived on Tuesday night to help with search and rescue. Army personnel used boats to help get to people trapped in their apartments.

"I've been waiting to leave for three days," said a woman named Rosie as she piled into the back of an Army truck with a smile on her face.

At another apartment building on the corner of First and Harrison, a mother held her baby as they peered out of their third-floor apartment, waiting to be rescued.

Hoboken is also home to many New York City commuters. Samantha Bennet, 26, works for an Internet start-up in the city called Passenger and left Hoboken Wednesday with her husband Steve Bennet after their apartment building flooded, and went to nearby Jersey City to stay with a friend.

"There was about eight feet of water in our basement," Bennet said. "It has receded. We were actually pretty lucky...every basement apartment has at least four to six feet of water."

Bennet said her apartment was on the third floor, so they weren't affected by flooding, but that they didn't have power or hot water. Although the storm surge came up Monday night, she didn't evacuate until Wednesday because only basement and ground floor apartments in Hoboken were ordered to evacuate.

"It was like an exodus, people with backpacks and bags walking out of Hoboken," she said.

Bennet said the standing water is starting to smell like oil from submerged cars on the streets, and sewage because the sewer system was backed up.

"People were using half of fan covers to clean out the gutters so the water would go into the sewer," she said. "They were also using rakes, but they kept breaking ... and as soon as they got the leaves out, more would come back in."

In the wake of the widespread damage in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday issued an executive order to postpone all Halloween celebrations in his state until Monday. For those residents living on the New Jersey coastline, Christie described the damage as "unfathomable" and "unthinkable."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Louisiana Father-Son Team Rescues 120 from Flooding

ABC News(BRAITHWAITE, La.) -- Residents of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana were shocked by Hurricane Isaac Wednesday morning when ocean water burst over the Mississippi River levee, covering their town and leaving thousands trapped in attics and on roofs.

Jesse Shaffer, 25, and his father, also named Jesse Shaffer, 53, both of Braithwaite, La., stayed behind in their town to rescue their friends.

While police and the fire department were unable to reach some stranded people using their vehicles, the Shaffers were able to save lives using boats.

"We rescued a lot of people, saw a lot of things you never thought you'd see," the older Shaffer told ABC News, beginning to cry.

Each Shaffer controlled a boat, in which the pair saved a combined 120 people in 12 hours, as well as animals.

Their rescue mission began at 5 a.m. Wednesday at a local auditorium, where they rescued 10 people, including a baby and an elderly man, they said. The Shaffers had to break through the attic ventilation system to reach the victims.

"They'd call me and didn't know the water was coming up until it was late, and they'd call me to come get them," the older Shaffer said. "We had to scramble and try to find a boat 'cause none of the sheriff's department or anybody could come to this end of the parish."

The Shaffers rescued a family of five, including three children under the age of 6, from the roof of their trailer home just minutes before water overtopped it. The rescue was the older Shaffer's most memorable of the day.

"They were all on there, screaming their lungs out," he said.

The rapid rate at which water gushed over the 18-mile levee into their town was "unexpected," the younger Shaffer said. As of Wednesday morning, their home had 12 feet of water in it and they had to stash their belongings in the attic, which was then flooded. Water rose six inches every four minutes, the older Shaffer said.

"There were a lot of houses we saw that were in spots that we know where they're supposed to be and they were maybe a half a mile down the road, floating down the highway," the older Shaffer said.

The Shaffers fought through debris, rough water, wind and downed power lines to save their stranded friends.

The older Shaffer insisted they are not heroes and they were never afraid.

"I guess we were just going on adrenaline," the younger Shaffer said.

But the most emotional part of their day was not the difficulty of their rescue mission, but the thought of knowing their town has to rebuild.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Boy, 8, Sucked Down Drain Survives

ABC(PROCTOR, Minn.) -- An 8-year-old boy survived being swept into a Minnesota drain tunnel filled with rushing water and surfaced in a creek about a mile away. While he was under, it was his mother that was on his mind.

"Mom, I thought I lost you," Kenny Markiewicz told his mother, Amber Markiewicz, when they were reunited, she told ABC News. "I did what you told me to do. I plugged my nose, I took a breath and I prayed."

Less than an hour earlier, Markiewicz feared that she had lost her youngest child.

The family had traveled from their Louisiana home to Proctor, Minn., to visit relatives. Proctor is a small town about eight miles southwest of Duluth, a city that has suffered record rainfall this week resulting in its worst floods since the 1970s.

On Wednesday afternoon, it was not raining and the street where the family was staying was not flooded. Kenny and his cousin went outside, walked a few houses down and approached what looked like a regular puddle.

"I never ever let my child leave my sight. This was a split second," Markiewicz said. "He just was going across by the puddle and, apparently, there was a culvert or a pipe there and he fell in. We heard my niece scream that and we opened the door, ran down the hill and dialed 911."

Markiewicz said that she couldn't see a manhole so she went into the water.

"I'm feeling around and then I felt it," she said. "I could feel the rush of water."

What she felt was a culvert -- a pipe that allows water to flow underground. Because of the recent flooding, the drain was filled with surging water.

Ann Reyelts, a witness, told ABC News' St. Paul affiliate KSTP-TV that frantic bystanders were moving boulders and lifting manholes in hopes of finding Kenny underground.

"I just wanted to whip out my super powers and rip up the road," Reyelts said.

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Despite the efforts, 4-foot-3, 63-pound Kenny was nowhere to be seen and his mother was panicking. While some people have told her the ordeal lasted about 20 minutes, she said, "To me, it felt like an eternity."

Eventually, a policeman came and told her that a little boy named Kenny had been found and he said he wanted his mom.

About a mile away, Gordon Marshall had been at home when he heard a noise.

"I heard this shrieking screaming, [it] kind of shakes me up because I got 10 grandkids," Marshall told KSTP-TV. He went outside to check the creek behind his house and spotted a little boy "bleeding from the head down."

"He was lost, petrified, scared to death," Marshall said. "The first thing I think I said to him is, 'Are you alright? Do you know where you're at?' He didn't. He just screamed."

Marshall took the little boy into his house, called for help, bandaged his head and put a blanket around him until police came with his mother.

"I just got out of the car and I ran. I just saw my child and my hero," Markiewicz said. "[Kenny] was worried about me."

"He just goes, 'I knew I had to find you,'" Markiewicz said, crying.

She said the situation was an "unreal" miracle and she felt "overwhelmed, relieved, happy."

In addition to the cut on the back of his head, Kenny had some bruises and abrasions, but is going to be fine. His mother said that he remained a little shaken but joked that he's already getting tired of talking about the experience.

She said he understood what happened to some degree, but parts of the ordeal were a blur.

"It was a miracle," Markiewicz said. "All I know is I just wanted my baby."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Heat Wave Sweeps US; NOAA Says Spring Flood Risk Low

NOAA(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time in four years, there is no major flood risk warning in effect for any part of the United States, according to NOAA’s annual Spring Outlook.

“The U.S. is getting a much needed spring break,” said Laura Furgione, deputy director of the National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.  “What a difference a year makes.”

Spring officially begins next Tuesday, and is proving to be very different from the record spring flooding the country saw in 2011. Most of the country is at normal or below-normal risk for floods this year, according to NOAA’s forecast of the flood potential from April to June.

Last year, almost half the country had an above average risk of flooding,” Furgione said at NOAA’s teleconference Thursday afternoon. “That is a stark contrast to this year.”

The only areas with above-normal flood risks are the Ohio River Valley and parts of the Gulf Coast, though Furgione said, “Heavy rainfall can lead to flooding at any time.”

Forecasters say drought conditions will persist through spring across the southern and southwestern parts of the U.S.

“This is the fifty-first consecutive week where at least two-thirds of Texas have been at risk for severe, extreme or exceptional drought,” said David Brown, director of Southern Region Climate Services.

As the peak of wildfire season approaches, drought conditions are concerning for parts of the country that sustained heavy losses last year, particularly Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. But drought situations have also emerged in the Southeast. More than three-fourths of Georgia face severe drought conditions. If the droughts persist, Brown said, it could result in an active wildfire season.

NOAA summed up the 2012 drought situation at the teleconference as “more less severe droughts [compared to 2011], but less more extreme droughts.”

Another hot topic right now is the rising heat index across the country. The famous cherry blossoms in the nation’s capital will be in peak bloom more than two weeks ahead of schedule this year, and farmers around the country are gearing up for the unseasonably warm temperatures. On Wednesday alone, 400 new record highs were recorded, in addition to 177 low temperatures that were warmer than any on record for those locations on a March 14.  That made for a total of 577 new warmth records from Florida to Wisconsin.

NOAA managers said they cannot say for certain if the rising heat index is connected to global climate change.

“Extreme events like the ones that we’re seeing are consistent with the notion that the climate is changing towards warmer, and obviously when records are broken that’s an unprecedented event, but without a lot of research and study it’s impossible to connect any single event with climate change,” said Ed O’Lenic, chief of the operations branch at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

The monthly forecast calls for a continuation of above-normal temperatures for at least the rest of the month, and the Southwest, South and Eastern United States should prepare for an even hotter summer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FEMA Wants Money Back from 73-Year-Old Couple

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One senator took action against the U.S. Treasury Department Wednesday, telling it to call off the debt collection branch trying to collect $37,000 from an elderly couple.

The Treasury Department seeks money from the Arkansas couple because of what looks like a FEMA mixup. The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the couple $27,000 for damages sustained during a flood in 2008, but three years later, FEMA said it had made a mistake. The letter FEMA sent to the couple said the two were ineligible for the funds they received because their home was located in a Special Flood Hazard Area and their community chose not to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

This March, FEMA demanded the couple pay back every single penny the government had given them within 30 days.

The elderly couple couldn’t do that. So FEMA turned the matter over to the Treasury Department for debt collection, upping the amount due to $37,000 to include late fees and interest.

Seventy-three-year-old Carolyn Guglielmannas sent a handwritten letter to Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., recounting her story and asking for help.

Wednesday morning Pryor took to the Senate floor and put a hold on all Treasury Department nominees until the group agreed to leave the couple alone.

In Arkansas news reports Pryor said this hold would force the Treasury Department to work with him to resolve the case.

The U.S. Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a call or emails.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Napolitano on Disaster Relief Fund: 'We Do Not Have Enough Money'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expressed frustration Thursday that Congress has not moved swiftly enough to pass a supplemental funding bill for FEMA in this year of wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes.

“The fight we’re in now is to get money for the disaster relief fund.  We do not have enough money -- given the number of disasters we’ve had this year -- to finish the fiscal year, and to do all the things we have to do,” Napolitano said Thursday at the Aspen Institute.

“I had to have a meeting with my FEMA director about things we will have to stop in places around the United States, unless Congress signals that they’re ready to put a supplemental into the Disaster Relief Fund,” Napolitano said.

There are competing packages in the Senate and House about how much extra money should be provided to FEMA and the agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.  The White House has said that Hurricane Irene will cost $1.5 billion through 2012.  The Office of Management and Budget has said there is an additional $5.2 billion needed for non-Hurricane Irene disaster needs.

“It means existing joint field offices in disaster areas around the country, where we’re doing recovery,” Napolitano said of the implications of the budget crunch and what services may cease without the funding.  “It means public assistance for things like rebuilding fire stations and schools that were destroyed in the tornadoes in the spring and the flooding in the spring, and what we’ve seen recently.  It may even mean going back as far as some of the investments that we made to repair Katrina.”

According to DHS officials, the Disaster Relief Fund currently stands at $351 million.  After Hurricane Irene and deadly spring tornadoes and severe flooding in the Dakotas, the fund has been strained.  In recent weeks, the fund has dropped almost $450 million.  DHS officials said that on Aug. 30, the fund stood at just under $800 million.

FEMA had to place funding restrictions on longer-term repair and rebuilding projects from previous and current disasters because the fund had dropped below $1 billion.  FEMA officials say that when the Disaster Relief Fund has been under $1 billion they have used a funding method called “Immediate Needs Funding,” which prioritizes the immediate needs of disaster survivors, states, and communities during disasters, so that FEMA can continue its focus on response and urgent recovery efforts without any interruption."

“The survivors that are eligible for assistance are still getting funds.  Individual assistance programs were not affected by this, nor was any protective measures, or any debris clearance or any project that had already been approved,” said FEMA Director Craig Fugate said at a White House briefing on Aug. 29, 2011 after Irene had passed up the East Coast.

“The only thing that we have postponed is new projects that are permanent work that had not been started when we go into immediate needs funding.  And that is to ensure that we still have funds to do this response, continue to meet the needs of the survivors of the previous disasters, while supporting the initial response to Hurricane Irene,” he said.

Similar funding limitations went into effect in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Northeast Flooding: Five Dead as 100,000 Evacuate

Tetra Images/Thinkstock(WILKES-BARRE, Pa.) -- Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River has crested and over 100,000 residents have been evacuated as remnants of Tropical Storm Lee have created flood zones in the already water-logged region.

A persistent area of low pressure associated with Lee's remnants will remain over the area throughout the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.  It is expected that the area will see an additional four to seven inches of rainfall in the coming days.

Of the five deaths that have been attributed to the flooding, one was a child who was caught in a storm drain by the rushing waters.  The 8-year-old Pennsylvania boy was swept underwater into a storm drain that was approximately one foot in diameter, police said.

The city of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., issued a mandatory evacuation order for 8 p.m. Thursday which was moved to 4 p.m. as the Susquehanna River rapidly swelled.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton asked residents to "be vigilant" and warned they should prepare themselves for an extended evacuation of a minimum 72 hours.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday that an emergency exists in Pennsylvania and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions.

About 1,200 National Guardsmen have been deployed across the state, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer, with approximately one-third headed for the Wilkes-Barre area -- which is cradled in the center of the Wyoming Valley region, with the Pocono Mountains to the east, the Endless Mountains to the west and the Lehigh Valley to the south.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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