WICHITA, Kan. – The death toll from days of heavy rain in Kansas rose to five Wednesday when authorities found the bodies of two people in a car submerged in a flooded creek.
A 26-year-old Parsons man and a 22-year-old Springfield, Mo., woman were found by Labette County sheriff’s deputies in Pumpkin Creek in southeast Kansas, the state Division of Emergency Management said.
The couple had been reported missing Tuesday evening. Authorities believe they were traveling west on a road and were swept into the creek at a low-water crossing.
The five storm-related deaths have occurred in northeast, southeast and south-central Kansas since Saturday. More rain was expected Thursday and flood warnings were posted for communities along several eastern Kansas rivers.
In the south-central Texas city of Gainesville, residents in a retirement village and those in low-lying areas near a creek were asked to leave because of flooding. Some 82 people were staying at a shelter set up in a church, Gainesville Municipal Judge Chris Cypert said.
Gainesville fire officers used a swift-water boat to rescue seven people from three vehicles, Cypert said Wednesday night. He estimated 7.5 inches of rain had fallen Wednesday and officials were expecting 2 to 2.5 inches early Thursday.
Whitesboro Police Chief Scott Taylor said one person was killed in a head-on accident on Texas Highway 377. “Weather will probably be a factor,” Taylor said. He said the area had “pretty heavy rain.”
In Oklahoma, a woman died Wednesday when her car slid during heavy rain and hit an oncoming truck, the state Highway Patrol said. Winds gusting to 70 mph also damaged power and telephone lines and toppled a cell phone tower in Healdton, Carter County Emergency Management Director Ed Reed said.
The winds blew out windows at a Healdton elementary school, and some students suffered minor cuts from flying glass. None of the students was hurt badly enough to need to be taken to a medical facility, Carter County sheriff’s dispatcher Linda Shepard said.
Storms that have battered parts of the state since Saturday prompted Gov. Brad Henry to issue a state of emergency Wednesday for nine counties hit by tornadoes and flooding.
In severe weather elsewhere, a storm dumped as much as 4 feet of snow on northwest Montana and piled it in drifts 12 feet high, blocking major highways Wednesday and isolating the town of Browning just east of Glacier National Park. Many schools were closed in the area along the Rocky Mountain Front.
The Montana Highway Patrol said icy roads were blamed for two traffic deaths Tuesday.