Hundreds of flights were grounded by storms that chased people from flooded homes and deluged roads in America’s midsection, killing at least two people in Missouri and sweeping a teen down a drainage pipe in Texas.
The National Weather Service posted flood and flash flood warnings from Texas to Ohio, with tornado watches in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Emergency officials in Mesquite, Texas, searched for a 14-year-old boy apparently swept away by floodwaters as he and a friend played in a creek. The friend was able to swim to safety, authorities said.
In northern Arkansas, rescuers searched for a man whose truck was believed to have been swept from a low-water bridge. Authorities found only the vehicle.
Heavy rain began falling Monday and continued steadily. Forecasters said parts of Missouri could get 25cm or more, and some residents were trapped in their homes. The storms were expected to finally stop on Wednesday.
More than 15cm of rain drenched areas around Dallas, including record rainfall at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where more than half of the 950 scheduled flights on Tuesday were canceled.
Winds of more than 160 kph were briefly reported at the airport.
By early Wednesday morning, the airport had opened all security checkpoint lanes in preparation for an early rush of stranded passengers. Airport officials said the backlog of flights would take most of Wednesday to unwind.
“The airlines will be working the lines early to try to get as many people rebooked and out of here as quickly as possible,” airport spokesman Ken Capps said.
Cots and blankets were given to stranded travellers overnight. The airport also received several hundred new passengers early Wednesday who were transported by bus from airports as far as Louisiana, after they were unable to make flights the day before.
Federal Aviation Administration officials evacuated the airport’s west tower for about 15 minutes on Tuesday morning after seeing a funnel cloud. By Tuesday night, the airport was accepting about 50 arrivals and departures an hour – less than half the usual 120 flights that use the airport’s seven runways every hour, officials said.
Hundreds of people were advised to evacuate from their homes in Texas, Arkansas and Missouri.
The body of an 81-year-old man was found in the water, said Missouri State Water Patrol Lieutenant Nicholas Humphrey. A 21-year-old state Department of Transportation worker in Missouri was killed when his dump truck was hit by a tractor-trailer as he helped out in a flooded area, officials said. (AP)
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