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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Texas pleads for more flood aid
Man cleans up mud in home
Thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed
The governor of the state of Texas is asking President Bush to add 17 more counties to the 13 already declared disaster areas of the wake of floods that killed eight and forced thousands to leave their homes.


We're not past the dangerous period of time, by any stretch of the imagination

Governor Rick Perry
"The devastation is very broad," Texas Governor Rick Perry said after an aerial tour of central Texas.

"It's mind boggling to see that and realise that nature has that type of force."

Areas declared disaster areas in central and southern Texas would have expedited access to federal aid just as they are beginning clean up efforts.

Some 48,000 homes have been damaged, destroyed or simply swept away by raging rivers swollen by nearly a week of heavy rains.

Rains to continue

"We're not past the dangerous period of time, by any stretch of the imagination," Governor Perry said.
Couple watches waters flood their home
Residents could only watch as flood waters ravaged their homes

Water levels had begun to fall off near record levels in San Antonio on Sunday, but officials fear even more damage as the floodwaters flow downstream to the Gulf of Mexico.

Residents in communities south of San Antonio were moving their belongings to higher ground and surrounding homes and businesses with sandbags.

And the state is bracing for more torrential rains.

Forecasters are closely monitoring what could be the first tropical depression of the season forming in the Gulf of Mexico with the potential for even more torrential rains.

Floating houses

Such rain would fall on already waterlogged land.

Areas such as Abilene, a town 300 kilometres (180 miles) west of Dallas, received rain in one day equivalent to half of what the town normally sees in a year.

At one point last week, there were reports that hundreds of people, many of them children, were trapped in the town of Bandera, turned into an island by raging flood waters.

The area surrounding the Canyon Lake Dam on the Guadalupe River was one of the worst hit, as the water burst over its spillway for the first time.

Officials were still monitoring dams in the San Antonio area.

Northeast of San Antonio, floodwaters poured down a narrow canyon and into the nearby town of New Braunfels.

The murky water was filled with debris, and television reports showed stunned onlookers watching a large house floating in the rapidly running river.

Residents of New Braunfels have returned to their homes to begin the cleanup, scraping mud off their belongings with kayak paddles and carting it away in wheel barrows.

Waterlogged carpets were piled in the driveways of some homes.

Fred Maxwell's home was the only in his neighbourhood to survive floods four years ago, and it withstood the raging waters this time as well even though the floods crested at three feet on the second floor.

"We're going to stay, I'm sure," he said, before adding with hesitation, "I'm at least going to rebuild. I can't sell it like this."

But others lost everything.

"I brought my briefcase and a purse and my husband was able to grab two pairs of shoes. And that's it," said Tina Kesei, living in a Red Cross shelter in New Braunfels.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Bryant
"Whole homes have been swept away"
See also:

23 Aug 99 | Americas
22 Aug 99 | Science/Nature
28 Aug 99 | In Depth
07 Jul 02 | Americas
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