At least two killed, others missing in Texas flooding

(Reuters) - At least two people person were killed and three others missing on Friday as record rainfall and severe flooding hit hard parts of southeast Texas, officials said.

A record 16.6 inches (42 cm) of rain fell in Brenham, about 80 miles (130 km) west of Houston, on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), which posted flash flood watches in some parts of southeast Texas for Friday.

A cluster of thunderstorms was moving southeast over Houston and toward western Louisiana on Friday afternoon before they were expected to move off the Gulf Coast, NWS meteorologist Brynn Kerr said on Friday.

One person was killed overnight in a drowning incident in the eastern part of Washington County, located about half-way between Austin and Houston, according to Brenham officials. A second death earlier on Friday was believed to have been caused by a heart attack shortly after the victim’s vehicle was carried through high water.

A 21-year-old man was reported missing after his pickup truck was found near a highway, Brenham Fire Chief Ricky Boeker said on Friday afternoon.

Since Thursday, there have been about 45 water rescues of people in Washington County, officials said.

Public schools in Brenham were closed on Friday, according to the school district.

Over the past two days, heavy rains in the central United States have caused floods that have covered roadways and forced multiple evacuations. Tornados have uprooted trees, caused power outages and damaged homes in parts of Texas and Kansas, according to media reports.

In Bastrop County, just outside of Austin, about 100 homes were damaged and evacuated overnight, said Sissy Jones, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman. County Judge Paul Pape was expected to declare a disaster to tap emergency funds, she said.

Residents of the county, which has a population of about 80,500, were advised on Facebook to boil drinking and cooking water after water main breaks due to heavy rainfall.

In Travis County, which includes the state capital of Austin, two people were reported missing, said Jacob Dirr, a spokesman for the city.

Earlier, nine people and two dogs were rescued by helicopter with some hoisted from their vehicles, he said. About 75 people had received assistance in evacuating their homes for higher ground, he said.

Reporting by Marcus Howard in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry and Sandra Maler