Death toll rises as flood subsides in Texas

  • Storm destruction along the Blanco River May 27, 2015 in San Marcos, Texas. Central Texas has been inundated with tornadoes and flash flooding the past several days.
  • Workers tend to equipment used to pump water from Padera Lake as water pours over a temporary dam on May 27, 2015 in Midlothian, Texas. 
  • Motorists are stranded along I-45 along North Main in Houston after storms flooded the area, Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
  • A house near the Blanco River sustained heavy damage May 26, 2015 in Wimberley, Texas.
  • Don Simons (L) and Clint Followel, volunteers from the First Baptist Church in San Marcos, Texas, help clean Toby McLroy’s flood damaged home in San Marcos, Texas, May 26, 2015. Torrential rains have killed at least eight people in Texas and Oklahoma, including two in Houston where flooding turned streets into rivers and led to nearly 1,000 calls for help in the fourth-most populous U.S. city, officials said on Tuesday.
  • Wilber Gonzales uses a chainsaw to cut fallen tree trunks into small pieces along the banks of the Blanco River in Wimberley, Texas May 26, 2015.
  • Nayeli Cervantes carries her friend’s daughter Sophia Aviles through the floodwaters outside their apartment in Houston, May 26, 2015. 
  • Water is seen at the top of a sign along a bike path near Memorial Drive in Houston, Texas on May 26, 2015. 
  • Motorists survey the flood waters in southwest Houston, Texas May 26, 2015. 
  • Roberto Salas, left, and Lewis Sternhagen check a flooded car on the frontage road between South Loop West Freeway and South Post Oak Road near the Willow Waterhole Bayou, May 26, 2015, in Houston.
  • Parts of the city are shown inundated after days of heavy rain on May 25, 2015 in Austin, Texas.
  • The water line is clear on Ruth Hansen’s living room wall May 24, 2015, in San Marcos, Texas. Record rainfall was wreaking havoc across a swath of the U.S. Midwest on Sunday, causing flash floods in normally dry riverbeds, spawning tornadoes and forcing at least 2,000 people to flee.
  • A shopping center located at Texas 80 near I-35 has high water in the parking lots from the Blanco River flooding in San Marcos, Texas, on May 24, 2015.


Rescue workers waded through receding floodwaters in southeastern Texas on Wednesday in search of other missing victims who may still be alive.

But their efforts came as authorities revised the death toll higher — identifying at least two more victims while another round of storms rolled through earlier in the morning. Total fatalities from the historic flooding across Texas and neighboring Oklahoma increased from 19 to 21 after more bodies were found.

The number of missing stood at 13 people.

Two victims in Hays County, Texas, were identified. One of them was named at a Wednesday morning news conference as Jose Alvaro Arteaga-Pichardo, who had been working on a ranch near the town of Wimberley on Saturday when he was washed away in his SUV by the swelling Blanco River, according to reports.

Another missing person was identified as Michelle Charba, her brother-in-law, Alan Daniel, told NBC News. Charba was one of eight people missing after their vacation home in Wimberley was washed away during the storm over Memorial Day weekend.

“Right now we are still in search mode,” said Kenneth Bell, the emergency management coordinator for San Marcos, Hays County. “Every time it rains, it poses a problem for the guys down there.”

There are more than 100 people involved in the search, Bell told reporters, with more volunteers expected.

The search crews were impeded by more rain Wednesday morning, which hammered parts of Houston, but spared areas that had been inundated with flooding since the Memorial Day weekend. Another foot of water deluged the region overnight Monday into Tuesday, paralyzing roadways and stranding drivers.

Many of the victims died after getting stuck in their vehicles when the waters trapped them.

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