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June 01, 2015

Brimming Texas lakes spill over, flooding hits Arkansas

DALLAS - With flood warnings lifted in many parts of Texas after more than a week of torrential rain, problems persisted in the Dallas area where water overflowed on Monday from upriver lakes that were filled beyond capacity.

Severe weather in late May killed at least 31 people in Texas and Oklahoma. Many rivers in Texas remain swollen, with a few spilling over in places near Rosharon, about 30 miles (50 km) south of Houston, where the Brazos River flooded into fields.

Lewisville Lake, one of the area’s largest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs and located about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Dallas, reached a historic high on Sunday, the Corps said, as other lakes that feed into the Trinity River system filled to capacity.

"We haven't seen flows like these before in some of these areas," said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Clay Church.

The Trinity River was flowing at a rate of 41,000 cubic feet per second (1,160 cubic meters per second) near downtown Dallas, more than triple its normal flow, Church said.

At least 167 of Texas' 254 counties have been affected by the severe weather, with 155 roads closed due to flooding, the Texas Department of Transportation said, adding damage to its system was estimated at about $27 million.

Enough rain fell in Texas in May to cover the massive state in about 8 inches (20 cm) of water, the state climate agency said.

In Arkansas, 27 counties have been declared disaster areas, mostly due to floods along the Arkansas River. Dozens of families in Jefferson County, about 40 miles (65 km) south of Little Rock, were asked to leave homes in low-lying areas.

"It's bad and we know it's going to get worse. We know what's coming. It's already the worst flooding we've seen here in almost 30 years," said Major Lafayette Woods of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department.

In Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin on Monday requested a federal disaster declaration for 13 counties hit by storms and tornadoes, seeking federal aid to help in rebuilding.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a flash flood watch for the heavily populated East Coast stretching from Virginia into Massachusetts.