Bodies of 2 missing in Hermine-fueled Texas floodwaters found, pushing death toll to 6

By Paul J. Weber, AP
Friday, September 10, 2010

Hermine death toll climbs to 6 as 2 bodies found

SAN ANTONIO — The bodies of two men found Friday in swollen Texas waterways pushed the death toll caused by remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine to six, while a scaled-back search resumed for another woman swept away in flooding caused by a record drenching.

Five people in Texas and one in Oklahoma have died in flooding caused by Hermine, which proved more deadly and devastating this week while dissolving over land than it did after coming ashore in Mexico on Monday.

Hermine’s weakening march north through Texas flooded homes, set off tornadoes and led to more than 100 high-water rescues. Only one search continued Friday — for an Austin woman who drove around a police barricade and into a fast-moving creek Tuesday night.

Divers were pulled from the search for the woman, who disappeared after her sport utility vehicle was washed down swollen Bull Creek, said Austin fire Lt. Josh Portie.

“It’s safe to call it a recovery operation,” Portie said.

Hermine set rainfall records for the calendar day up and down the Interstate 35 corridor, including nearly 16 inches in Georgetown, according to the National Weather Service. Other cities from Austin to Denton received upward of 10 inches of rain over Tuesday and Wednesday.

“These records pretty much smashed the old ones,” National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Ryan said.

In the San Antonio area Friday, search teams recovered the bodies of two men missing in separate, swollen waterways. One was the second of two swimmers killed in flooding in the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, a day after authorities found the first body.

Nikos Paraskevopoulos, 28, of Alexandria, La., had been swimming with Derek Joel-Nelson Clemens, 23, of Baldwin, Mich. Both were swept over a dam in the river Wednesday.

Authorities on Friday also found the body of 57-year-old Calvin Gibson, who tried crossing the flooded Cibolo Creek in his car despite his wife telling him not to risk it.

Hermine caused relatively few problems when it made landfall as a tropical storm Monday night, with the worst of the rainfall falling harmlessly into the Gulf. But once the storm was fully on land, its remnants moved north into Texas and Oklahoma and the flooding caught some people off guard.

Hermine was the third tropical system this year to hit the Rio Grande Valley, a flood-prone area that encompasses northeastern Mexico and southeastern Texas.

Ryan said Hermine dumped so much rain in one swoop that it could take as few as 2-4 more inches of rain in some places to set new records for September.

Associated Press Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.

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