'State of disaster' declared for Dallas County after heavy rainfall causes extensive flooding
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared a state of disaster late Monday afternoon after torrential rainfall flooded homes in Balch Springs and Dallas, stranded dozens of motorists on streets and highways that looked more like canals and delayed air traffic at local airports.
"Based on preliminary damage assessments, I am declaring a state of disaster in Dallas County and requesting state and federal assistance for affected individuals," Jenkins tweeted shortly before 5 p.m. Monday. "There are thresholds that must be met for each type of assistance."
He asked Dallas County residents to "report your damage" at damage.tdem.texas.gov.
Jenkins also reported Dallas County's first death related to the storm a few hours earlier on Twitter.
"A 60-year-old woman was killed when her vehicle was swept away by flood waters," he wrote. "Please keep her husband and family in your prayers."
That death apparently occurred in Mesquite, where the fire department reported that the body of a woman was discovered inside a car under a bridge. Fire officials told reporters that her car may have been swept off a nearby road.
Jenkins warned in his tweet that "even less than and inch of water on roadways can cause the loss of control of a vehicle."
Many water-related emergencies were reported late Sunday night and into the early morning Monday.
The Fort Worth Fire Department responded to 133 high water calls between 10 p.m. Sunday and 11:30 a.m. Monday.
Many of the calls stemmed from cars that stalled out or were swept away in the deluge, says department spokesperson Craig Trojacek.
"We haven't hit too big of a critical point, but it is all hands on deck at this point in time," Trojacek said.
Dallas Fire-Rescue told KERA they responded to 141 water-related emergencies as of approximately 8 a.m. Monday— 96 high-water incidents, 40 water rescues without a boat and five water rescues with a boat. Videos on social media documented several rescues.
Flooding forced many North Texas residents out of their homes, including apartment residents in Dallas and homeowners in Balch Springs.
Across the metroplex, local governments and first responders continued to grapple with the after-effects of the heavy rainfall throughout the day.
Dallas Water Utilities reported Monday afternoon that the the rain had cause "sanitary sewer overflows at several locations throughout the city."
"None of the overflows of diluted wastewater have affected the City’s water supply," said DWU Assistant Director Zachary Peoples.
But city officials urged people using wells for their drinking water within a half-mile of the spill sites to "use only water that has been distilled or boiled at a rolling boil for at least one minute for all personal uses including drinking, cooking, bathing and tooth brushing."
Weather conditions delayed more than 450 flights in and out of DFW International Airport, and cancelled least 120 more. At least 60 were cancelled at Dallas Love Field. The number of delays decreased substantially as the day progressed.
Power outages also were reported throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As of 8:22 p.m. Monday, Oncor, an energy supply company, was still reporting that 1,337 customers in Dallas County and 7,506 customers in Tarrant County were affected by outages.
Juan Reyes, a spokesperson for Oncor, said crews had been out since before the storms rolled in Sunday night to help restore power.
"We did have crews pre-positioned ahead of the storm ready to make the necessary repairs so they're going to work as quickly and safely as possible," he said Monday.
The Texas Tribune reported that "the rainfall in some areas qualifies as a 1-in-1,000-year flood, which means that in any given year it has a 0.1% chance of happening.
The Tribune also reported that "the east side of Dallas received 13 to 15 inches of rainfall over the past 24 hours, according to a reading from Dallas Water Utilities," and that "most of the Dallas-Fort Worth area recorded 6 to 10 inches of rainfall."
On Tuesday, the chance of thunderstorms in North Texas is 40% with otherwise partly sunny skies expected.