Entries in Floods (7)


Flash Floods Wreak Havoc on Houston

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Strong winds and flash floods plagued southeast Texas Monday after an unusually dry winter, with rainfall exceeding the monthly average in a few hours.

City roads were flooded and thousands of Houston residents were without electricity after strong thunderstorms hit the area.

The torrential downpour came as a shock to many Texans, after 2011 finished as the driest year on record for that area, according to the National Weather Service.

Houston endured a total of 4.05 inches of rain by 4 p.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service. The monthly rainfall average for that area is 3.79 inches.

A funnel cloud was sighted southwest of Houston and roads flooded across downtown Houston. Flooding shut down exit ramps and lanes on several major highways, wreaking havoc on the Houston area.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Northeast Flooding: 14 Dead, 45 Trillion Gallons of Rain

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WILKES-BARRE, Pa.) -- The rains and flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee have led to the evacuation of more than 100,000 people in the Northeast and dumped enough rain to fill Dallas Cowboys Stadium more than 50,000 times.

Lee and its aftermath have been attributed to at least 14 deaths. Virginia's governor declared a state of emergency Friday after flooding submerged parts of the I-95 corridor and left people stranded in their cars. President Obama declared a state of emergency in New York and Pennsylvania.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that 45 trillion gallons of rain fell on the United States in the wake of Lee. That's enough rain fill the NFL's largest enclosed stadium, the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, 57, 842 times.

The Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania is finally receding, but officials worry about the integrity of its levees and urge evacuated residents not to return to their homes.

The river reached its highest level ever Thursday night, overwhelming flood gauges. Officials revised their estimate of the river's crest at Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to 42.66 feet Friday, nearly four feet higher than first thought. Officials warn that's "well beyond the design" of the levee system.

"We are in a precarious situation," said Jim Brozena, executive director of the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority. "We need people who are ordered to evacuate to adhere to those orders, to stay out of affected areas so that we can [get] things done and hopefully prevail against the river."

At least 75,000 people around the Susquehanna River are under a mandatory evacuation. Communities not protected by the levees have seen hundreds of homes and buildings damaged.

Friday afternoon, the National Guard used a boat to rescue 11 people, including two children, who were trapped on the second floor of a home in West Pittston, Pa.

The devastation in the region recalls Hurricane Agnes, which ripped through the mid-Atlantic in June of 1972, killing more than 100 and causing significant flooding, the brunt of which was felt in Wilkes-Barre.

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.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Thousands Evacuated in Second Round of Flooding

Scott Olson/Getty Images(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) -- More than 100,000 residents living along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania are being forced to evacuate Thursday after officials said they expected even more rain to fall on the water-logged tristate area.

Residents of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston were ordered to leave by 4 p.m.

"I'm moving out of my first floor because if [the river] goes 38 feet, I'm going to have five feet on my first floor," Plainsville resident Beverly Sabol told ABC News affiliate WNEP-TV as her family emptied her house. "Thirty-eight projection? ... Where am I going to go?"

After the Northeast was inundated with rain as Hurricane Irene made its way northward a few weeks ago, Tropical Storm Lee dumped more heavy rain and caused floods Thursday.

Forty river gauges are in for major or record flooding, and historic flooding is expected in eight rivers throughout the region, including the Delaware and Passaic Rivers. Ten states are under flood watches, with warnings from Virginia to New Hampshire.

In Binghamton, N.Y., the Susquehanna broke a flood record and flowed over retaining walls. Emergency responders worked quickly to get residents who had not evacuated to leave their homes.

"We're still trying to get everybody out to a safe spot. Life is more important than people's properties as far as I'm concerned," firefighter Jason Delanoy said.

"It's a little scary but I do know that the emergency crews have been taking good care of everybody so far," resident Charlie Pritchett told ABC News affiliate WSYR-TV. "At least where we're at, they're ready to evacuate. They're ready to take care of everybody. Our parents live at the top of the hill so we're moving to the top of the hill with the kids and the dog."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


North Dakota Residents Flee as Historic Flood Waters Rise

File photo. Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(MINOT, N.D.) -- Residents of Minot, N.D., have now resigned themselves: the Souris River will overflow, and the city will flood. More than 11,000 residents, nearly a quarter of the population, have already been forced to flee as waters rise towards historic levels and submerge entire neighborhoods.

"We could have a really catastrophic type of event here. We will -- there is no doubt about it anymore. I think people have to understand if you were on the edge before you may not be on the edge now," Curt Zimbelman, mayor of the town of 41,000, told evacuees Wednesday night.

ABC News Fargo affiliate WDAY filmed a submerged neighborhood where 15-20 homes are completely surrounded by water in the southwest part of Minot.

Minot is also home to more than just families - Minuteman III nuclear missile silos are also in the flood's path. At least two silos are being protected by sandbags and pumps, but are reported to be safe.

"We are already higher than the historic flood of 1969 and based on current predictions we will crest seven feet higher than we did in 1969 and about five feet higher than ever recorded going back to the flood of 1881," Zimbelman told ABC News. "These levels are above any rating curves than the National Weather Service has dealt with in the past."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing pent-up water from the Lake Darling Dam, which will push water downstream towards Minot at 17,000 cubic feet per second -- more than three times the record flow rate before this year. Those raging waters are expected to start pushing against the makeshift Minot levees rated to withstand water flows of up to about 9,500 cfs on Thursday or Friday, according to WDAY.

The Souris River, which loops down from Canada through north-central North Dakota, has been bloated by heavy spring snowmelt and rain. It is not expected to crest until Sunday or Monday.

Minot is expecting the worst flooding it has seen in nearly four decades, when severe flooding of the Souris River devastated the city in 1969. The same river reached 1,555.4 feet above sea level during that destructive flood time, and this time it could reach 1,563 feet.

This is the second time Minot residents have had to flee their homes. About 10,000 people were told to evacuate potentially affected areas earlier this month when the river climbed to 1,554 feet. They were eventually allowed to return, but were told to remain on high alert. Many of the same people have now been forced back out of their homes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Flood Fight: Army Corps to Blast Open Missouri Levee

Comstock/Thinkstock(BIRDS POINT, Mo.) -- The Army Corps of Engineers has been ordered to activate explosions at the Birds Point, Mo., levee, which could save Cairo, Ill., from disastrous flooding, but at the cost of some of America's richest farmland.

"Public safety remains the No. 1 issue for the corps of engineers," Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh said Monday during a news conference, announcing his decision to go forward with the project.

"[The Cairo levee] continues to be under enormous and unprecedented pressure," he said. "The Cairo gauge has gone up a foot and a half since yesterday. It's going to continue to rise."

The corps' explosives experts will blow a two-mile hole in the levee sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Once the explosives are detonated, Mississippi River water will flood 130,000 acres of prime farmland that includes about 90 homes. Army Corps spokesman Jim Pogue said letting water escape from the swollen river should "lower the Mississippi by anywhere from 3 to 7 feet."

The idea is to take pressure off other levees protecting Cairo, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, where river levels this week rose past a record set in 1937.

Cairo, whose population exceeded 15,000 in Mark Twain's day, is a ghost of what it was as a booming riverboat-era port town. The city currently has approximately 2,800 residents, most of whom have already evacuated, according to Mayor Judson Childs.

Missouri farmers in the water's path are outraged by the decision. Bill Feezor, who farms 2,500 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans near Birds Point, said he fears the flooding.

"It will ruin my farm," he said. "This is my whole life."

Farmers such as Feezor worry about a toxic stew of diesel fuel, propane, fertilizer and pesticides that, they believe, will cover their land once river water rushes in.

Twenty-four hours after the first explosion, the corps plans to detonate more explosives at the southern end of the floodway to drain the water from the farmlands.

Missouri officials fought the move in court, but U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh, Jr.-- siding with Illinois and Kentucky -- ruled that the corps had the right to breach the levee to protect Cairo. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an emergency appeal from Missouri's attorney general.

For Cairo's mayor, the decision was "a no-brainer."

"What's more important, land or lives?" Childs said. "You can replace land. You can't replace lives."

Walsh on Monday cautioned that this levee explosion would be just the beginning as the corps continues watching pressure levels.

"This doesn't end this historic flood," he said. "This is just the beginning."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Floods to Wreak Havoc On Parts of Midwest

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Whether you loved all the snow this winter or hated it, one thing you can count on is that all of it is going to melt. And if you live in the Midwest, you’re probably in for a very wet spring.

For the third straight year, forecasters are predicting moderate to major flooding in the Midwest, stretching from Missouri to North Dakota. The cities of Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Fargo, N.D., are at the highest risk for floods.

Residents have already begun filling sandbags in anticipation of a flood season that could be aggravated by more than five feet of snowfall and frigid temperatures that held the snow in place.

For the first time, researchers say there is evidence that the huge amounts of precipitation this past season may not be all Mother Nature’s doing. Global temperature has been increasing over the past 50 years due to human emission of heat trapping gases.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Floods Plague Western Washington State

File photo. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(FALL CITY, Wash.) -- Residents in the Seattle area are hoping for a break in the weather Monday, as local rivers continue to rise well above flood levels.

Property owners in Fall City, Wash., have watched the Snoqualmie River slowly invade for the past few days. Reaching a level of 59 feet Monday morning, the situation is muddy and dangerous and has some local commuters, like Mitchell Shoenfeld, pulled over to watch.

“It's pretty impressive,” Shoenfeld said. “We've got a current going down that's carrying pretty big logs at about 20 miles an hour.”

More than 20 local roads were closed Monday with two other nearby rivers also approaching major flood levels. Each of the rivers are expected to crest by Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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