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Severe Weather Hits Texas, Leaving At Least Two Dead, Many Missing

May 19, 1986

HOUSTON (AP) _ Rescuers searched a lake Sunday for 18 people missing after a storm and high winds struck during fishing tournaments, causing one person to drown there and another in a lake about 45 miles away, authorities said.

The winds that whipped Lake Livingston on Saturday forced people to abandon their boats and swim to shore. Hundreds of people were at the lake, about 80 miles north of Houston, participating in two fishing tournaments and sailing race.

Authorities originally said two people had drowned in the storm. Carol Perry, a Trinity County sheriff’s dispatcher, said later Sunday that authorities had determined that only one of two drownings at Lake Livingston was storm-related.

Eighteen people were still missing Sunday night in the Lake Livingston area, said Polk County sheriff’s spokeswoman Sherlene Brown, adding that eight others earlier reported missing had checked in with authorities.

The full-scale search effort was halted Sunday afternoon but was to resume Monday, she said. But some officials continued a scaled-down search.

The body of Verna May Brisbon of Houston washed ashore Saturday, officials said. She had been with three other people in a boat, said Sheriff’s Sgt. J.C. Robbins, adding that none of the others in the craft had been located.

Some people may have left their boats at the lake during the storm, Robbins said, so authorities also were calling homes. About 10 power boats and two sailboats were recovered Sunday, and three people were rescued from an island, he said.

The storms were part of a wave of violent thunderstorms and tornadoes that struck western Arkansas and central Texas.

In another incident, the body of Austin Corbin, 50, was found Sunday near the spot where officials said his boat sank Saturday after high winds whipped up the waters of Lake Steinhagen about 50 miles north of Beaumont, said Bob Rawls, a Tyler County Game Warden for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Three women aboard the boat were rescued, said park ranger Huey Hancock.

In Fort Smith, Ark., a 14-year-old girl was killed Saturday when a tree toppled by high winds slammed into her home as she slept.

In Galveston, at least 138 people were rescued off 65 vessels Saturday, said Lt. Mike Walter, a Coast Guard operations officer. Of those rescued, 56 were plucked out of the water, he said.

Four boats feared missing in the Gulf all returned Sunday, Coast Guard officials said.

″We have no reported deaths and no reported serious injuries. We’ve been very lucky,″ Walter said.

Tornadoes were reported in Jasper, Tyler, Polk and Jefferson counties, but there were no serious injuries, officials said.

Churning winds of more than 50 mph and a possible tornado hit Laredo, tearing off part of a motel roof and damaging several mobile homes, said G.A. Guerrerro, a police communications officer.

At Laredo International Airport, 14 Confederate Air Force airplanes being used in a demonstration were damaged, said airport security Capt. Curtis Stephens.

High winds hit the business district of Killeen in central Texas, lifting the roof off a cement mixing company and damaging fire department vehicles across the street, officials said.

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