A Texas grandma and four of her young grandkids were among six people killed early Saturday as they tried to escape a flash flood that battered their homes.
The bodies of Lenda Asberry, 62, and her grandchildren, 9-year-old Venetia Asberry, 8-year-old Devonte Asberry, 7-year-old Von Anthony Johnson Jr., and 6-year-old and Jamonicka Johnson, were found near their badly damaged home in the rural town of Palestine, police told the Palestine Herald-Press.
Police said the five were attempting to flee the rising waters when they were killed.
“The water got up here extraordinarily quickly. The individuals tried to get out, however the water was already on the roof of the home,” Palestine Police Capt. James Muniz said.
The body of a sixth victim, Giovani Olivas, 30, was found later.
Asberry’s home was severely damaged when a local creek overflowed following heavy rainfall over the course of just a few minutes after midnight. Between six and 10 other houses on the block were also ruined.
“With the enormous amount of rain we had, we had people tell us that within minutes, the water was waist deep,” Muniz said.
More than 7 inches of rain was reported in less than an hour at the city of Palestine’s water treatment plant.
The bodies have been taken to Tyler, Texas, for autopsies.
All other residents on the damaged Palestine cul-de-sac were accounted for, Muniz said. City officials used a dump truck to rescue one man from the roof of a home, he added.
Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster says between 20 and 30 residents of Palestine were displaced by the floods.
Merta White, who climbed onto the roof of her home from the porch, was yelling for help when she saw a “bump” float by in the water.
“I thought it was a mailbox, but then I realized what it really was, and I started screaming,” she told the Palestine Herald-Press.
Palestine is about 150 miles north of Houston, which was slammed with massive flooding of its own earlier this month
“You see this stuff happen in Houston with flooding, but not here,” another neighbor Undra White said of the early morning flooding. “I just saw firefighters rescue a woman who was up to her face in water.”
The disastrous flooding in Palestine came as storms swept across Eastern Texas and other parts of the Gulf Coast and Great Plains Friday.
Tornados touched down in Texas and Oklahoma, weather.com reported, injuring at least two people. Heavy rain pummeled Arkansas and Mississippi Friday night, and golf ball- to grapefruit-sized hail fell across the four states.
The storm is expected to move east toward the Atlantic throughout Saturday.
Heavy rain and a few severe storms may impact the East Coast Sunday, with persistent rain falling through into Monday.
With News Wire Services