Gov. Greg Abbott declares Dallas-Fort Worth deluge a disaster, freeing up state resources to help in recovery

Gov. Greg Abbott gets a briefing Saturday from members of the Texas Emergency Management Council on the flash floods and excessive rain across the state. He signed a state disaster declaration Tuesday for 23 counties affected by the storms and flooding. (State Government Website, State Government Website)

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Gov. Greg Abbott signed a state disaster declaration Tuesday for 23 counties after the Dallas area experienced what he described as the city’s second-worst rainstorm and flooding on record.

Some parts of the area saw more than 10 inches of rainfall Monday, flooding streets and homes in what Abbott called “an extraordinary challenge.” A 60-year-old woman died in Mesquite when her vehicle was swept away.

Appearing at a news conference in Dallas, Abbott said that more than 100 homes were damaged or otherwise affected by the storm. The state response included 11 Texas A&M Task Force swift water boat squads, tactical marine units from the Department of Public Safety, and search-and-rescue teams from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, praised the response, saying that some parts of the region saw “15 inches in a five-hour period with very little advance warning.” The worst appears to be over, he added, though he warned there is “still plenty of water out.”

Abbott said he has spoken to both Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, who appeared alongside the governor, and they have told him that “as of this time, they have no unmet needs.”

The disaster declaration frees up state resources for those impacted by the storm and includes counties outside the Dallas area that also saw heavy rainfall Monday, like El Paso County.

Some parts of Texas, including the Dallas area, have been in extreme drought for months, though this week’s rainfall is not expected to end the drought.

Scientists say climate change can contribute to shorter, more intense periods of rainfall like what Dallas saw Monday. Asked Tuesday about the role of climate change in the storm, Abbott said state officials “have constant conversations about what we categorize as extreme weather” and acknowledged such events are increasing. He expressed confidence the state was prepared to deal with them.

Disclosure: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.


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