Flood, Flames and Fear

A relentless storm delivers a devastating one-two punch to the swamped residents of Southeast Texas

The heavens above Southeast Texas finally seemed ready to give the region a break last Wednesday. More than 20 in. of rain had fallen in less than 48 hours, sending Houston's San Jacinto River to record levels and forcing 13,000 residents to abandon their homes. At least 18 people died in the swirling floodwaters. But now the skies were clearing, the river was subsiding, and people were returning to their homes. Then the river exploded.

While it will be impossible to tell what happened until the water recedes, officials speculate that the roiling currents of the swollen San Jacinto had possibly...

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