Storms, flooding in Texas claim more lives

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HOUSTON (KRON/CNN) — Almost a foot of rain hammered down on the Houston area where a powerful storm system in the region is being blamed for a rising death toll and has damaged as many as 700 homes.

In Houston, emergency officials Tuesday said they recovered three more bodies from floodwaters. That brings to 16 the number of people killed by the holiday weekend storms in Oklahoma and Texas. The number of missing has now risen to 40.

The downpour inundated byways and highways, slowed first responders, and knocked out power to the region, bringing the area to a standstill.

Following Monday night’s Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, flooding in the area forced hundreds of fans and at least one player to remain at Toyota Center.

Some 350 fans stayed at the arena into early Tuesday morning to wait out the storm.

“We got hammered,” Houston’s emergency management coordinator Rick Flanagan told CNN’s “New Day,” echoing sentiments by many others in the region in recent days. “We had cars that were stranded, mobility was stopped, … signals didn’t work. It was just a madhouse.”

One of the victims in Houston has been identified as is Alyssa Renee Ramirez, a star athlete and student council president at Devine High School who died early Sunday while driving home from her senior prom.

“She did the right things,” her aunt Roberta Ramirez told CNN affiliate WOAI. “She called 911. She called her father, but it was just too much and too quick.”

Devine High School seniors will now have to celebrate their graduation on June 5 without her.

Among those missing include Laura McComb and her two young children. They were near Wimberly, about 100 miles northeast of Devine on the other side of San Antonio, when the raging Blanco River tore through the area and floodwater uprooted their vacation cabin, according to CNN affiliate KXAN.

As the home got swept away, McComb was on the phone with her sister. “We are floating in a house that is now floating down the river,” McComb said, according to her sister. “Call Mom and Dad. I love you, and pray.”

Crews were also searching for victims and assessing damage just across the Texas-Mexico border in Ciudad Acuna, where a tornado Monday killed 14 people and left at least four unaccounted for.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared disasters in 37 counties.

“You cannot candy coat it. It’s absolutely massive,” Abbott said after touring the destruction.

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