Obama signs disaster declaration over deadly Texas storms

The presidential declaration frees up federal funds to help rebuild; no estimate has been given for the damage in the state.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration late on Friday for areas in Texas hammered by severe weather that killed at least 21 people. (Photo: Archive/AP )
30/05/2015
17:43
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U.S. President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration late on Friday for areas in Texas hammered by severe weather that killed at least 21 people, caused massive flooding and prompted evacuations this week.

Storms that battered North Texas on Thursday and Friday added more runoff to swollen rivers and prompted hundreds of calls for help in Dallas, where some areas saw up to seven inches (17.8 cm) of rain.

"Communities across the State of Texas have experienced devastating destruction, injury and – most tragically – loss of life due to the major and unceasing severe weather system that has been impacting our state for weeks," said Governor Greg Abbott, who has declared 70 counties disaster areas.

The presidential declaration frees up federal funds to help rebuild. No estimate has been given for the damage in Texas, which has a $1.4 trillion-a-year economy and is the biggest domestic energy provider.

Near Dallas on Friday, thousands of cars were trapped for about six hours on a suburban freeway blocked by floodwaters. The Red Cross distributed Girl Scout cookies and water to stranded motorists.

"I feel like I am on an island and nobody cares," Vanessa Paterson, who was on the highway with her 6-month-old son, told TV station WFAA.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch from Central Texas into Missouri, with the additional rain tipping off a new round of flooding.

Dallas officials advised people to go home early and stay off streets that have seen more water than they can handle.

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