Texas Flood Death Toll Hits 20

ByABC News

H O U S T O N, June 12, 2001 -- Dayon Kane spent the day spraying his home with

disinfectant, pulling up soggy carpets, and carrying soaked clothes

and furniture to the street curb.

A respite from the rain Monday gave Kane and thousands of otherresidents a chance to return to their homes, some of which werealmost completely submerged a day earlier.

"Mud is just everywhere," Kane said. "All of our furniture isin different rooms of the house. I don't know how to describe it.It's eerie."

Flooding caused by remnants of Tropical Storm Allison had forcedsome 20,000 Houston-area residents to flee as nearly 3 feet of rainswamped parts of the city in less than a week. The storm has beenblamed for at least 20 deaths in Texas and Louisiana.

"When you get 28 inches of rain like most areas of Houston gotand you live by one of the creeks or bayous you're, well, up acreek," said John Siggins, manager of Eagle Transmission inFriendswood, a repair shop that has taken in a number offlooded-out cars.

The bulk of the residential damage was on Houston's east sidewhere Greens Bayou and Halls Bayou had strayed far from their banksand swamped neighborhoods.

Power of Water

Kathy Vossler, a Houston attorney, found insulation from hersecond floor hanging down into the first. Her ceiling is now thefloor. Her refrigerator is on its side in the middle of the kitchenfloor.

"It's amazing what the power of water can do," Vossler saidMonday, holding back tears as she sat on the back of a pickuptruck, waiting for insurance adjusters to show up at her home notfar from Greens Bayou. "You walk in and the ceiling insulationhits you in the face and it smells like bad fish."

Most of the rest of the nation's fourth-largest city, however,appeared near normal on what Mayor Lee Brown declared a "day ofrecovery." Freeways were open. Water was back within the banks ofbayous.

The storm caused more than $1 billion in damage in Houston, saidHarris County Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt.

"What you see here is tremendous flood damage," Bettencourtsaid, referring to 5-foot-high piles of debris he saw outsidewrecked homes.

Twenty-eight counties in southeast Texas were included in astate and federal disaster declaration, and federal disaster teamswere converging on the area.

Looking for Higher Ground

Insurance adjusters from around the country were arriving tohandle claims. An insurance industry estimate suggested there couldbe as many as 50,000 claims for property damage not covered byfederal flood insurance and for losses to cars and trucks.

"From our perspective, it's going to be an insurancenightmare," said Jerry Johns, president of Southwestern InsuranceInformation Service, an industry trade group.

In Louisiana, the total damage was "$15 million and counting,"said Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La. Thestorm left an estimated 3,500 homes muddy and water-logged.

"Two major floods in six years is enough for me," said Slidellresident Myron Miller, 58. "I'm going to fix this place up, sellit and buy a house on stilts somewhere."

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