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Rain still in forecast for TX, OK, KS

Water receding in some areas; more flooding expected in others.

BY HEATHER MOYER | COFFEYVILLE, Kan. | July 5, 2007

Little relief is in sight for flood-soaked areas across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. While meteorologists say the rain this weekend may not be as widespread, there will still be some rain across the region that has been drenched by heavy rains and hit by flooding since mid-June.

"I think that moisture is going to start thinning out over the weekend, but there's still a chance for some thunderstorms over the weekend," said Gerald Mohler, a meteorologist for AccuWeather. "It's not going to be as bad, there may be some reprieve. But unfortunately there will probably be some rainfall."

Texas Division of Emergency Management officials projected major river flooding continuing in the Nueces River basin and towns like Callalen and Tilden have already been affected. Record rainfall fell Wednesday in Corpus Christi and Victoria. Moderate flooding is expected in the Trinity, Guadalupe and lower Brazos basins.

Rainfall forecasts for the next 48 hours in eastern and southeastern Texas call for totals ranging from 6 to 10 inches. The National Weather Service posted flood and flash flood warnings for more than 140 counties across the state.

Responders are working hard in Marble Falls, Texas, which was hit hard by flash flooding late last week. Texas Baptist Men chainsaw crews are on site for the cleanup.

Cooke, Coryell, Denton, Grayson, Lampasas, and Tarrant counties all received federal disaster declarations on June 29.

Hundreds of people are still out of their homes across southeast Kansas. In Coffeyville, a town of 11,000 near the Kansas-Oklahoma border, the Verdigris River sent hundreds of residents out of their homes earlier this week. The flooding also forced an oil spill at a refinery in town. The spill is said to not have affected the drinking water, but residents are still urged to drink bottled water at this time or boil water before consumption.

A town meeting will be held Thursday to update citizens on the relief operations. The Coffeyville Ministerial Alliance is gathering food and small furnishing donations at First United Methodist Church (FUMC). Church member Linda Bever said her church was taking in the food for the local shelters to draw from. She anticipated the church doing more once the recovery phase begins.

For now, just seeing what the flooding has done is shocking, she said.

"Now that the water is starting to recede, the odor is monumental," said Bever, a 20-year resident of Coffeyville. "It'll be a long recovery, but we'll get in there and clean it up. It's awful right now, but we'll survive."

She said Coffeyville residents have been doing well in a tough situation - especially since the city water is mostly off-limits as they do tests and refill the reservoir. She added that some people she knows have been traveling into Bartlesville, Okla., to do laundry and take showers.

The spirit of the residents is great, Bever said, and everyone is offering assistance and lending a hand to their neighbors. That help, she added, will be needed in such a hard-hit town.

"I've seen some bad disasters - tornadoes and floods before in other parts of Kansas - but this one tops it all for this area," she said.

In eastern Kansas' Osawatomie, city inspectors were assessing damages now that much of the water has receded. Power was restored to 60 homes late Wednesday.

Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Butler, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Cowley, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Labette, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Osage, Wilson, and Woodson counties all received federal disaster declarations Tuesday. Officials from the Kansas Emergency Management Division and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will assess damages again Thursday in Osawatomie and Coffeyville.

Shelters in Miami, Okla., were still operating for some evacuated residents who were not staying with friends or families. First Christian Church and First Baptist Church remain open there, while evacuated residents in Bartlesville are staying at East Cross United Methodist Church. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief mud-out units are standing by to help residents, and The Salvation Army and American Red Cross are distributing flood cleanup kits.

All 77 Oklahoma counties remain under a state of emergency.

Lake Texoma is expected to flow over the spillway early Friday and officials warned residents downstream along the Red River to move what they can to higher ground. By noon Wednesday, the lake was 8 inches below the spillway. Officials said they did not anticipate a major evacuation but said the water was expected to be over the spillway for up to two weeks.

Rivers were cresting and floodwaters were receding in some areas, including Bartlesville and Miami. Officials are still keeping people out of the areas until the water has completely receded - which is expected to take days in Miami.

Oklahoma officials said Initial damage assessments showed 836 homes damaged by the flooding in Comanche, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Washington counties. Of those homes, 240 were destroyed and 286 sustained major damage. Another 43 multi-family residences were damaged or destroyed. Businesses also were destroyed or sustained major damage but the exact numbers were not released.


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