HALTOM CITY, Texas – June 18, 2007 (AP) -- Torrential overnight rainfall flooded a handful of North Texas towns Monday, killing two people and stranding people and their pets on the roofs of their homes awaiting rescue.
Creeks swollen by as much as 8 inches of rain inundated parts of the towns of Gainesville and Sherman near the Oklahoma state line.
A 4-year-old girl, Alexandria Collins, died after she was swept away by rushing water in Halom City, a Fort Worth suburb. Her body was found more than two hours later.
"We were in the boat when the boat capsized," her mother, Natasha Collins, tearfully told KXAS-TV of Dallas. "The current swept her from my arms."
But firefighters said the girl was already missing by the time they pulled her mother onto a boat.
A woman died in Sherman, about 60 miles northwest of Dallas near the Oklahoma state line, after her car stalled in rising water and was swept away, Sherman police Sgt. Bruce Dawsey said. A firefighter was struck by lightning but went back to work helping with rescues, he said.
About 125 residents of a Sherman nursing home were being evacuated, and an unknown number of people were being rescued from an office building where the roof started caving in, Dawsey said.
In Gainesville, aerial video showed dozens of people seeking refuge from the high water on a railroad crossing. Families awaited rescue on their roofs, some having hacked their way to the outside from their attics. Some were joined by their dogs.
Water had receded from parts of downtown Gainesville by midday.
About 100 mobile homes in Haltom City were inundated and many were washed off their foundations, emergency officials said.
"When I looked out the window, water was up to the bottom of the window and the current was so fast houses were washing away, said Haltom City resident Rachel Hawkes. "You could hear people screaming but we couldn't get out to help."
About 37,000 people live in Sherman and about 16,500 in Gainesville.
Authorities closed Interstate 35 from Gainesville to the Oklahoma state line for several hours, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. Some other roads in the region also were closed by high water.
The National Weather Service said rain fell at a rate of an inch every 15 minutes in some places early Monday.
"We get heavy rains in North Texas, but the rate, the amount, the duration and the coverage of this are just amazing," said Gary Woodall, the warning-coordination meteorologist for the weather service office in Fort Worth.
The weather service forecast a chance of isolated thunderstorms in the area Monday and Tuesday but said overall the weather was expected to improve.