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Torrential Rainfall Drenches Texas, La.

June 19, 2006

HOUSTON (AP) _ Torrential rainfall shut down Houston highways Monday and flooded parts of southwest Louisiana, where more than 100 patients had to be evacuated from a nursing home.

As much as 10.5 inches of rain was reported in the Houston area by the height of the morning rush hour, said Rusty Cornelius, administrative coordinator for Harris County Emergency Management. Almost 6 inches of rain fell in just 75 minutes near Hobby Airport, the National Weather Service reported.

Interstate 10 and other major arteries in the Houston area flooded. Numerous school districts called off classes. Even Hobby Airport was closed for more than 2 hours because employees couldn’t get through the flooded roadways to work.

Much of the Houston region remained under a flash flood warning at midday, with more rain expected.

``We probably have another 48 hours of this,″ said Josh Lichter, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Houston.

In Louisiana, emergency crews evacuated more than 100 patients from Holly Hill Nursing Home, where the water was a foot deep in the halls. Fire departments from Sulfur and Lake Charles and two ambulance companies were moving patients to another nursing home in Lake Charles, about 15 miles away, officials said.

``There’s pretty widespread flooding around the parish. A lot of roads are closed,″ said Dick Gremillion, the Calcasieu Parish emergency preparedness director.

The same area was battered by Hurricane Rita last September. On Monday, some houses in Sulphur, La., were flooded, and residents were urged to stay home unless there was an emergency, Assistant Police Chief Glenn Berry said.

Homes were reported flooded in the Houston area, as well, Cornelius said. A YMCA building was surrounded by water and people stood on its roof as helicopters passed by.

The Houston Fire Department reported about a dozen high-water rescues of motorists in southeastern Houston, Cornelius said. In some places, drivers tried to push stalled vehicles from knee-deep water. Others couldn’t even reach their vehicles as the water rose to the doors.

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