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Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 21:55 GMT 22:55 UK


World: Americas

Texas border town fears floods

A fireman removes debris left by Hurricane Bret in Falfurrias

Rescue teams are gathering in the Texas border town of Laredo because of an expected deluge there that could bring severe flooding in the wake of Hurricane Bret.


[ image: The storm was the strongest to hit the area in 30 years]
The storm was the strongest to hit the area in 30 years
Jack Colley, assistant director of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said there was concern about a possible repeat of what happened a year ago in Del Rio, 240 km (150 miles) up the Rio Grande, when nine people died following 50 cm (20 inches) of rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Charley.

Laredo Mayor Betty Flores said the city's three bridges across the Rio Grande into Mexico would be closed later on Monday because of expected flooding.

In the Mexican town of Nuevo Laredo, across the river from Laredo, officials said lower parts of the city were already underwater and 1,200 people had already been evacuated.

Heavy rains

Hurricane Bret dumped heavy rains on southern Texas on Monday, but officials said they were relieved there were no reports of deaths so far from the once powerful storm.


The BBC's Peter Greste: "The early impact is less than most people expected"
Early on Monday the storm was downgraded to category three, meaning that serious damage to buildings was no longer expected.

Rains up to 50 cm (20 inches) were expected as Bret, now a slow-moving tropical storm with top winds of 65 km/h (40 mph) moved westward toward the Rio Grande after coming ashore on Sunday in sparsely-populated ranching country.


[ image: Material damage could have been worse, but there is still plenty to clear up]
Material damage could have been worse, but there is still plenty to clear up
Some areas reported minor flooding as the rains fell and the National Weather Service posted flash flood warnings throughout the region.

Corpus Christi escapes

Hurricane Bret struck the coast at about 1800EDT (2300GMT) on Sunday, midway between the cities of Brownsville and Corpus Christi.

Winds of over 190km/h (125 mph) were recorded as the storm moved inland some 90km (60 miles) south of Corpus Christi, across sparsely populated farmland.

Gusts of up to 117km/h (73mph) were measured in Corpus Christi itself, but the city escaped relatively lightly.

.

Federal aid

Businesses and homes were left boarded up as escaping traffic clogged roads heading away from the area.


[ image: A driver  moves slowly along a flooded road in Corpus Christi]
A driver moves slowly along a flooded road in Corpus Christi
Damage assessment teams are in the area to see what kind of emergency aid would be needed.

President Bill Clinton, at the request of Texas Governor George W. Bush, declared seven counties a disaster area, which makes various forms of federal aid available to storm victims.





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