26 May 2013, SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Two women died after being swept away by floodwaters after weekend rains deluged numerous roads in San Antonio, forcing more than 235 rescues by emergency workers who aided stranded motorists and homeowners at times using inflatable boats.
At least one teenage boy also was reported missing after Saturday’s torrential rains, carried away while trying to cross the swollen Cibolo Creek in the San Antonio suburb of Schertz, authorities said.
At the height of Saturday’s torrential downpours, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro urged residents not to drive as a flash flood warning covered nearly two dozen counties. Nearly 10 inches of rainfall was reported in a matter of hours Saturday at the city’s airport.
The National Weather Service said the flash flood threat would persist until late Sunday morning though mostly cloudy weather with occasional thunderstorms and showers was expected to give way to partly sunny skies later in the day.
The rains left more than 200 residents of the Texas city stranded in cars and homes when water rose unexpectedly up to 4 feet in some spots. Traffic also was snarled, making driving difficult.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Gera Hinojosa, a valet parking cars downtown after the storm. “It was pretty unexpected. We hardly got any warning about it.”
One woman became trapped in her car and climbed to the roof before being swept away in floodwaters, said San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Christian Bove. Her body was later found against a fence, he said.
Emergency officials also recovered the body of a woman in her 60s who was swept away in her car while firefighters were trying to rescue her.
Authorities did not immediately identify the women.
At nightfall, water still was pooling in many ditches and underpasses. Several roadways were closed, including a major highway linking the suburbs and the city.
But even in low-lying neighborhoods along Commerce Street east of downtown San Antonio — a faded stretch of clapboard houses and beauty parlors — yards were clear. In the tourist district around the River Walk, the streets were thick with weekend holiday revelers.
While the water in some homes rose 4 feet high, according to Bove, most residents experienced the floods primarily as a major traffic hassle.
Karen Herring, 50, who spent the day volunteering at a fitness contest at the AT&T Center, said participants complained of three-hour drives across town.
In the city, even a municipal bus was swept away, but firefighters on a boat were able to pluck the three passengers and driver to safety, public transit spokeswoman Priscilla Ingle said. Nobody was injured.
The San Antonio International Airport by Saturday afternoon had recorded 9.87 inches of rain since midnight, causing nearly all streams and rivers to experience extraordinary flooding. The highest amount of rainfall recorded since midnight was 15.5 inches at Olmos Creek at Dresden Drive.
The San Antonio River about 20 miles southeast of the city, near Elmendorf, was expected to peak at 62 feet by Sunday morning, well above the flood stage of 35 feet, the National Weather Service said.
The National Weather Service compared the flooding to the storm of October 1998, when 30 inches of rain fell in a two-day period. In that flood, the Guadalupe and San Antonio River basins overflowed, leaving more than 30 people dead, according to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.
Associated Press writers Angela K. Brown in Fort Worth and Danny Robbins in Dallas contributed to this report.