VICTORIA, Texas (AP) _ Lupe Sanchez, her husband and two children awoke early Thursday to find water pouring into their home along the Guadalupe River.

''I heard people moving cars, and dogs barking. I screamed. I told my husband, 'Let's get out of here, the water's here,''' Mrs. Sanchez said.

They were able to save some furniture and valuables, but lost tables and clothes, among other things.

''Everything is just ruined,'' she said.

Still, she had reason to be thankful.

''I told my husband as long as our lives weren't lost, as long as we saved the kids and we saved each other, it's all right,'' Mrs. Sanchez said.

About 65 miles away in Wharton, where the Colorado River was expected to crest at 9 feet above flood stage Friday morning, authorities were having trouble convincing people to pull out.

Benny McDonald, 59, was among those staying put until flooding forced him out.

''I have my exit planned in case things go bad,'' said McDonald, holding his dog, Tank, as he surveyed the Colorado River on Thursday.

In the last few days, when the river began rising noticeably, the riverfront has been a gathering spot for residents and tourists, many carrying cameras and video recorders.

''For a small town like this, it's a real happening,'' said Michelle Solomon, who toured the riverfront with her young son during a downpour.

For Pete Mirelas, whose front yard already was under water, the most immediate concern was his chickens and dogs.

If things get too bad, he said, ''I'll just turn them loose.''

One man unimpressed by the rising water was Dana Steinheimer, whose castle- like structure floating on the Wharton riverfront serves as a theater and pontoon boat.

''I grew up on the Mississippi,'' he said. ''This is just a creek.''