Half of Texas under flood watch or warnings

2016-06-03 18:12
Motorists pass through a low-water crossing on a road closed due to high water near New Braunfels, Texas. (Eric Gay, AP)

Motorists pass through a low-water crossing on a road closed due to high water near New Braunfels, Texas. (Eric Gay, AP)

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Fort Hood - Nearly the entire eastern half of Texas is under a flash flood watch or warning as the effects of days of heavy rains linger in creeks and rivers.

Storms off the southeast Texas coast in the Gulf of Mexico are threatening to worsen flooding in places like Brazoria and Fort Bend counties, southwest of Houston, where residents near the Brazos River have been forced from their homes.

The river at Richmond in Fort Bend County, where flood stage just tops 14m, was 16.5m on Friday morning, down slightly from Thursday. Fort Bend officials say 20% of the county's land area has been affected by flooding.

Farther south in Brazoria County at Rosharon, the last flood gauge before the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico was at 15.9m on Friday morning. Flood stage is 13.1m

A Fort Hood spokesperson said officials were in the process of closing roads on the sprawling Army post in Texas when a truck carrying 12 soldiers was swept away by high water, killing five and leaving four missing.

Chris Haug said during a news conference on Friday that the soldiers were being trained on how to operate the 2 ½-ton truck when it overturned on Thursday morning along Owl Creek.

Haug says the portion of road where the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle overturned was not known to be overrun by water during past floods.

Army teams and other emergency crews continue to search for the four soldiers.

Meanwhile, a third Texas prison near the Brazos River in southeast Texas is being evacuated because of flooding.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Friday began moving about 1 700 inmates from the Ramsey Unit in Rosharon, about 50km south of Houston. They're being placed on buses for transfer to other prisons in East Texas that have room.

About 2 600 inmates at two nearby prisons in Brazoria County, the Terrell and Stringfellow Units, were moved out on Sunday.

Agency spokesperson Jason Clark says additional food and water has been delivered to the prisons receiving the displaced inmates.

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