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Flooding Keeps Scores Out of Homes; Four Dead From Storm

June 29, 1989

Undated (AP) _ Heavy rain from the breakup of Tropical Storm Allison continued to soak the eastern half of Texas today, causing more Gulf Coast flooding.

Forecasters said 2-4 inches of rain may fall by Friday in areas where rivers and creeks were at capacity because of 10 inches or more of rain during the past week.

Streets and underpasses were flooded this morning at Port Arthur and Orange, on the Gulf Coast near the Louisiana state line. Strong thunderstorms extended from just off Corpus Christi 100 miles eastward into the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Weather Service, in a preliminary assessment of the storm, said damage in the Houston area alone was in the millions of dollars.

The death toll from the storm rose to four on Wednesday with the recovery of the bodies of two teen-age boys from a culvert in Beaumont, Texas.

The bodies of Mark Shaw, 15, and James Dunbar, 16, were found Wednesday morning by a diving team, police said. A companion told officers the two youths were playing in a small rubber raft when it capsized in the swift current.

Allison came ashore in Texas on Monday, and the slow-moving storm dumped more than a foot of rain over many parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Many families living near the San Jacinto River east of Houston remained flooded out of their homes today. Side roads, particularly in the eastern part of the city and Harris County, also remained flooded.

The storm caused as much as 20 yards of beach erosion near Galveston, where sand was blown over Texas Highway 87, officials said.

East Texas received more rain today and showers were forecast for central and south Louisiana, although additional flooding wasn’t expected.

More than 13 inches of rain was measured in southern Natchitoches Parish during a 48-hour period that ended Wednesday night.

Edward Wright, assistant director of emergency management for the city- parish government in Baton Rouge, said Wednesday at least 100 homes flooded with at least a couple of inches of water.

Nearly 10 inches of rain fell Wednesday in the Baton Rouge area.

Plaquemine, La., south of Baton Rouge, was one of the hardest hit communities with as many as 280 homes flooded. Two trailer parks were evacuated.

Power failures were reported in several areas, including the Baton Rouge campus of Louisiana State University, where classes were canceled.

East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s Capt. Bob Shortess said he watched Wednesday as the waters rose around his house.

First, water covered the street in front of his house. Then, water creeped up into his yard.

″Then, it all came to the house at the same time,″ Shortess said.

Linda Becnel, who lives in a flooded Baton Rouge neighborhood, said although the water didn’t get into her house, it covered her yard and street, Lochness Drive.

″I keep laughing, but I know it’s not funny,″ she said.

Water also surrounded the ″For Sale″ sign in her yard.

″We showed it yesterday,″ she said. ″We haven’t got a purchase agreement yet, but they seemed interested. I hope they’re still interested. I’ve lived here seven years, and it never flooded before today.″

Allison was the first named storm of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season when its sustained winds reached 39 mph. The weather service said winds gusted to 56 mph Monday at Galveston.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, lightning strikes across Florida killed one person and critically injured two others, officials said.

Greg Lastovica, 32, of Lantana, died Wednesday and Vincent Kowalski, 20, of Lake Worth, remained in critical condition today at Boca Raton Community Hospital after they were struck while working under the roof of an unfinished home.

In Tampa, Chelvasing Sundramoorthy, a 24-year-old electrical engineering student at the University of South Florida, was struck by lightning as he rode his bicycle home from class in a thunderstorm Wednesday afternoon. He was in critical condition today at University Community Hospital, a nursing supervisor said.

And in Mississippi, a tornado in the Centreville area injured five people and damaged homes Wednesday morning. Two people were in stable condition at Field Memorial Hospital in Centreville, while the three others were treated and released, officials said.