(NewsNation) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a state disaster declaration for Dallas County and 22 surrounding counties Tuesday. He urged the public to report storm damage in order for the state to help the state qualify for FEMA assistance and to determine proper funding for disaster relief victims.
At least one person has died from flash floods caused by historic heavy rain in North Texas. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has declared a state of disaster following the record rainfall Monday, and forecasters said the Dallas-Fort Worth area received six months’ worth of rain in just one day.
“The Dallas-Fort Worth area was pretty much ground zero for the heaviest rain overnight,” said Daniel Huckaby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Nine inches of rain fell within 24 hours, filling homes and streets with water.
The official National Weather Service record station at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport reported 9.19 inches of rain in the 24 hours. That ranked second for the top 10 most rain over 24 hours in Dallas on record. The most was 9.57 inches which fell Sept. 4-5, 1932.
“We’ve been in drought conditions, so the ground soaked up a lot of it, but when you get that much rain over that short a period of time, it’s certainly going to cause flooding, and that’s what we saw, definitely in the urban areas here,” Huckaby said.
The rain flooded apartments, streets and parking lots, submerging cars and trapping drivers along the way. Rescue crews worked to bring dozens of stranded civilians to safety. A 60-year-old woman died after the flood waters swept her vehicle away in Mesquite, Texas.
One man said it took first responders 30 minutes to work around strong currents.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said during the press conference that the city will work to develop systems that can help prevent future flooding like this in the future.
Dallas city councilman Adam Bazaldua shared his personal experience with the floods, but also discussed the city’s emergency response to the storm.
“There were a record number of calls. There were over 600 calls for a response that our DPD, our police department, went out to. But we also had a lot of our own first responder vehicles that were stalled out and got stuck as well,” Bazaldua said. 28 patrol vehicles were lost or damaged in the flood, and authorities said during the press conference they are working to get those vehicles replaced.
He explained that most people were not expecting this level of flooding, so many people were not prepared for the storm. He said most people aren’t used to this level of flooding, and most are not insured for it.
“There’s several people that have lost quite a bit of everything when it comes to their personal belongings and are going to have to start from scratch,” Bazaldua said.
Monday’s rain now ranks as the second wettest day on record for the Dallas area. Preliminary estimates suggest even more rain fell in East Dallas, breaking a 100-year record. It’s a dramatic shift from the historic levels of drought and heat North Texas had been experiencing in the weeks leading up to the storms.
The combination of a stalled front and tropical moisture will keep heavy, flooding rainfall a threat in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and the eastern half of Texas today.