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Storms push through Crossroads (w/video)

By JR Ortega
May 27, 2014 at 12:27 a.m.

From left, Jenni Boren, 24; Hank Pahmiyer, 23; and Kc Boren, 22, all of Victoria, wave to a honking trucker as they paddle in the rain along U.S. 87 during the storm in Victoria.  "The water was there,  and it was inviting. Truckers would honk at us as they went by and give their approval; everyone else probably thought we were nuts," Kc said. "We're having a monopoly party the rest of the day."

flash floods

A flash flood watch is in effect through noon Tuesday for Victoria, Goliad and Bee counties. Anywhere from 1 to 2 inches is expected while the watch is in effect. A 40 percent chance of rain is expected Tuesday, dropping to 30 percent by the afternoon and evening.

A river flood warning is in effect for the Guadalupe River. The river is forecast to rise above flood stage by noon Tuesday and continue to rise to near 23.9 feet about noon Wednesday.

Lightning sparks fires

Four oil tanks were struck by lightning during Monday morning's storm, according to a dispatcher with the DeWitt County Sheriff's Office.

Fire departments in the area responded to the first oil-tank fire at 7:28 a.m. off Vasbinder Road; a second one at 8:14 a.m. on Cabeza Road near Nordheim; the third on state Highway 183 South near Meyersville at 8:46 a.m.; and the last one on Farm-to-Market Road 952 at 11:23 p.m.

The sound of power loss shook Ashleigh Enriquez from her Memorial Day slumber Monday morning.

It was 7 a.m., and the sound of heavy rain on the metal roof and the creaking of wind pushing into the Yorktown home was enough to have the 27-year-old scrambling throughout her house, waking her family to move them into the center of the home.

"You could feel the whole house rattle," Enriquez said, hours after a thunderstorm downed trees around her home and flipped over and damaged an RV at a park nearby.

The worst of the storm's impact lasted about five minutes, she said, and when the storm died down, that's when she looked out.

"We were just like 'Oh, my God,'" she said. "We just couldn't believe it."

This scene played out in areas throughout the Crossroads on Monday.

Victoria Regional Airport's gauge recorded 2.75 inches of rain, said Alina Nieves, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi.

At 5 p.m., 3.61 inches were recorded.

The storms were part of an upper-level low moving east from New Mexico. This coupled with moisture already in the air caused the heavy downpours, Nieves said.

Yorktown was hit particularly hard during the storm.

Laura Parella-Billings was getting ready for work about 4:30 a.m. when the rain started at her Yorktown home.

There was lightning but no thunder as she made her way to her office.

About 7 a.m., she was on the phone with her daughter when her daughter let out a scream. Parella-Billings could not tell what was going on, so she called her husband, who was also home, and he didn't answer.

She decided to drive home and realized what happened - their nearly 100-year-old sycamore had crashed into the home, damaging the laundry and playroom area and her husband's man cave.

"We just finished remodeling the whole house," she said. "We were getting ready to sell it. We had a buyer."

In the 12 years Parella-Billings has lived at the home, she has never seen damage that extensive.

It's something she would expect during hurricane season, she said, but never with a regular storm.

"It was scary, but the house can by fixed. My kids are alive; that was my worst fear," she said.

The storm moved through Victoria between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., bringing the same heavy rainfall to the area.

Jason Merritt, who lives in the Lake Forest subdivision off Nursery Drive, has never seen rain accumulate that fast in his subdivision.

He saw an emergency personnel vehicle split the water as it pushed its way down his street, he said.

"We have no flooding issues," he said. "I've never seen any water on the road like that. It was substantial."

Rain usually drains out, he said, but with the heavy downpours, dry ground and debris, it all may have just been too much, overwhelming the drainage.

Richard Fritz, 86, is used to flooding during any heavy downpour.

Fritz lives streets away from the Lake Forest subdivision on Woodway Drive and was not surprised by the rising water.

The water soaked entire lawns, covering sidewalks and swashing debris onto front yards, he said.

"It's not unusual when we get a big dump of rain," he said.

Fritz's rain gauge measured about 5 inches of rain.

The rain was welcome, he said, but sometimes, it's just too much.

"We definitely need the rain, but we didn't need one that floods the streets."

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