1 dead, 12 hurt in Texas storm-related incidents

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Associated Press

Posted on May 28, 2014 at 8:05 AM

HOUSTON (AP) — A woman was killed and 12 construction workers were injured Tuesday in two separate incidents related to the thunderstorms that swept across Texas.

Fire crews responded to an emergency in northeast Houston and found a dead woman lying in a puddle of water next to fallen branches and power lines, Houston fire department spokesman Kenyatta Parker said. They could not immediately determine her cause of death.

In an emailed statement, a contractor said 12 construction workers were taken to hospitals after a tent collapsed on them while they were sheltering from the weather in La Porte, about 20 miles southeast of Houston.

One particularly strong storm roared through the South Texas town of Alice, about 40 miles west of Corpus Christi, Tuesday evening, toppling large trees and utility poles and leaving much of the town in the dark.

The storm hit the town of about 19,000 residents about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. American Electric Power-Texas estimated that almost 7,000 residents of the town and surrounding areas of Jim Wells County were left without power, almost half of the number of customers AEP Texas has in the county.

"There are a lot of windows blown out, trees and power lines down, trampolines relocated," said Lynn Kirchoff, Jim Wells County's emergency management coordinator.

There were no reports of injuries, he said, but police officers, sheriff's deputies and firefighters were combing the town.

It was unclear whether the damaging winds were a tornado or straight-line winds, Kirchoff said. A National Weather Service team was expected to review the damage patterns Wednesday morning to determine the nature of the winds, he said.

Jim Wells County was under a tornado warning at the time the storm passed through Alice and followed U.S. 281 the length of the county, from north to south.

The storms were heading off the coast, but a flash flood watch continued into the evening for the Houston area.

National Weather Service forecaster Brian Kyle said the storms generated winds from 35 to 50 mph and a half-inch to inch of rain over the Houston metro area.

Kyle said preliminary reports after a tornado warning in eastern Harris County indicated downed trees and power lines.

Drought-stricken Lubbock got more than 5 inches of rain during the weekend, putting it slightly ahead of normal rainfall for the year.

Mark Wiley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dallas said the area between Austin and Houston received about eight inches of rain.

"A lot of that area is in exceptional drought. It is absolutely good news for the state," he said. As for replenishing reservoirs, "it's not a whole lot, but it's a start," he said.

Wiley said more rain is expected over the weekend in East Texas.

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