5 dead, 4 missing after Army truck swept away in Texas flood
A Texas DPS helicopter flies over Lake Belton near the scene of an accident at Fort Hood at Owl Creek Park near Gatesville, Texas, on Thursday, June 2, 2016. Fort Hood says several soldiers are dead and six are missing after an Army troop truck was washed from a low-water crossing and overturned in a rain-swollen creek at Fort Hood in Central Texas. A statement from the Texas Army post says the accident happened about 11:30 a.m. Thursday in an area near Cold Springs and Owl Creek. (Michael Miller/The Temple Daily Telegram via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
FORT HOOD, Texas — Five soldiers were killed and four were missing after an Army troop carrier was washed from a low-water crossing and overturned Thursday in a rain-swollen creek at Fort Hood, the Texas Army post said.
Three soldiers were found dead shortly after the 2½-ton truck was toppled by the swift current of Owl Creek during a morning training exercise. Two more bodies were found late Thursday night, according to a Fort Hood statement. Three soldiers were rescued and were hospitalized in stable condition.
No further details were provided in the statement, but spokesman Chris Haug said the search continued for the four soldiers who remain missing. Army officials planned a briefing early Friday to provide an update.
Aerial and ground crews searched the 20-mile creek that winds through heavily wooded terrain on the northern fringe of the sprawling Army base. Army aircraft, canine search teams, swift-water rescue watercraft and heavy trucks were being used.
The Army did not release the names of the dead because it was still notifying relatives.
Parts of Texas have been inundated with rain in the last week — at least six deaths have been blamed on flooding — and more than half of the state is under flood watches or warnings, including the counties near Fort Hood.
Fort Hood spokesman John Miller said the crossing was flooded by two days of intermittent heavy rains when the swift water swept the truck, called a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, from the road. The vehicle resembles a flatbed truck with a walled bed and is used to carry troops.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement saying the state ‘stands ready to provide any assistance to Fort Hood as they deal with this tragedy.’
Across the state, many were watching a new batch of storms that could dump up to 10 inches of rain from Thursday through Saturday and worsen flooding caused by rivers and other waterways that already have risen to record levels.
The heaviest rainfall Thursday night was reported in LaPorte, on the western shore of Galveston Bay, where 4.36 inches was recorded between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Earlier, a storm system that moved through the Houston area Wednesday night and Thursday morning dumped nearly 8 inches of rain in some of the city’s northern suburbs, causing flooding in some neighborhoods. In Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, about 1,400 homes have been affected by the Brazos River, swollen by heavy rainfall from last week.
The river reached 54.8 feet in Fort Bend County — 4 feet higher than the record set in 1994 — with water spilling into neighborhoods that hadn’t previously flooded. Officials say levels in the Brazos have not dropped much and additional rainfall could make the flooding worse.
‘With the rain that’s predicted, that’s not going to help things as that water has no place to go,’ said Lt. Lowell Neinast, with the police department in Richmond, where more than 700 people have been evacuated.
Fort Bend County emergency management coordinator Jeff Braun said officials have worked to warn and prepare residents ahead of the additional rainfall.
More than 50 people are staying at shelters in Fort Bend County, one of the 31 included in a disaster declaration by Abbott. Braun said it could be at least a week before the flooding recedes and residents can go home.
This week’s storms are the latest in a string of torrential rains since May 2015 that have put swaths of the state underwater. Some areas now overwhelmed by water had run dry two years ago due to drought conditions.
Other areas of Texas dealing with heavy rainfall include Bexar County, where San Antonio is located. Parts of that county got more than 4 inches of rain Wednesday and Thursday, causing more than 20 streets and roadways — including parts of Interstate 35 — in San Antonio to be temporarily shut down.
The rising Colorado River was expected to cause minor flooding in the coming days around Bastrop and La Grange, cities located southeast of Austin, according to the National Weather Service.
Lozano reported from Houston. Associated Press writer Terry Wallace in Dallas also contributed to this report.