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Texas Flood Repeat Rain*

November 18, 2001

Rain Eases Across Texas After a Week of Flooding


USTIN, Tex., Nov. 17 (AP) — Rainfall eased in much of Texas today after a torrential storm that flooded homes, swept away cars and killed nine people. Some people told of spending hours clinging to trees and praying for rescue.

More than 8 inches of rain fell in central Texas on Friday. As much as 13 inches fell in some areas on Thursday, breaking records in Austin and San Antonio, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasts held out a chance for more rain this week, and with the ground already saturated, the authorities said there could be new flooding.

"We don't need that," said Warren Hassinger, spokesman for the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services. "Not now."

On Friday about 700 people were in Red Cross centers and 37,000 homes were left without power. During a brief break in the weather many residents began picking through the muddy debris left in their homes by flood waters.

Rescuers scouring the banks of a creek north of Austin found the body of Chau Do, who had not been heard from since calling his girlfriend on a cellphone as he stood on top of his car in the raging water Thursday night. He had been swept six and a half miles downstream.

Sharon Zambrzycki, 54, who was in a car in front of Mr. Do, survived by clinging to one tree and then another with a rope firefighters sent as a lifeline. A heavy log pushed her under at one point.

But, she told The San Antonio Express-News: "There was no doubt in my mind I was going to make it. I'm an obnoxiously positive person."

The body of another woman who had been near Ms. Zambrzycki was pulled from the creek on Friday.

Earl Hughes, 62, was rescued from a tree in the middle of the swollen Guadalupe River late Thursday after spending almost five hours there.

"He was cold and anxious to get out of the tree," said Danny Morales, a volunteer fire chief. It took a rescue boat about 45 minutes to get to Mr. Hughes because of all the debris in the river.

On Friday, Mr. Hughes' wife, Carolyn, said her husband was in good spirits. Austin residents spent Friday cleaning up after rain and high winds toppled road signs, wrecked mobile homes and houses and left cars and toys buried in branches and mud.

At one badly damaged mobile home park, Carmen Acosta had tears in her eyes as she searched through what remained of the home she had lived in for only five months.

"There is so much water, I don't know what I'll do," Ms. Acosta said.

As much as 13 inches of rain fell in parts of Texas on Thursday, breaking records in Austin and San Antonio, the National Weather Service said. Areas in the southern part of the state got as much as 8 inches of rain on Friday.

In Gonzales, which three years ago sustained severe flood damage but no loss of life, officials kept a wary eye on the rising Guadalupe River. It was expected to crest at about 40 feet, 8 feet over flood stage but still almost 10 feet beneath its peak in October 1998.

(Original Len: 3257 Condensed Len: 3592)

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