Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Sunday declared a state of emergency after widespread flooding led to at least eight deaths over the weekend.
The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings Sunday for several sections of Missouri, where 3 to 6 inches of rain fell over the weekend, and up to 4 additional inches of rainfall was expected through Monday.
“Widespread flooding and continued rainfall are causing very dangerous conditions across much of central and southern Missouri,” Nixon said in an emailed release.
In the Kansas City area, a winter storm warning was issued for Sunday night through 9 p.m. Monday. The area could get up to 3 inches of snow and as much as a quarter inch of ice, the National Weather Service said.
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The storms in Missouri were the latest in a succession of powerful weather events across the country, from heavy snow in New Mexico, west Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle to flooding in parts of the Plains and Midwest. Days of tumultuous weather have led to 43 deaths overall — 11 in Texas, plus five in Illinois, eight in Missouri and 19 in the Southeast.
In Missouri, Nixon said the Highway Patrol had assisted in dozens of water rescues and also had assisted in the evacuation of residents from flooded areas. More flooding is expected as river levels continue rising around the state.
Nixon added that the state Emergency Operations Plan had been activated, allowing state agencies to coordinate with local authorities to provide emergency services.
Kansas City area firefighters were among those being deployed.
On Sunday, Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said department representatives will join those of the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District in responding to the Joplin area, where they were to assist in any necessary water rescues.
In south-central Missouri, six people died in two separate incidents late Saturday or early Sunday when vehicles were swept away after they were driven into flooded roadways, Pulaski County Sheriff Ronald Long said. Two people were in one vehicle, and four people were in another. Crews were looking for a fifth person who may have been in the second vehicle.
In southwest Missouri, Chet Hunter, executive director of the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, told The Springfield News-Leader that from midnight Saturday to early Sunday afternoon there were 104 water rescues, 198 traffic control issues and two fatalities in the county associated with the storm.
David Compton, emergency management director for Barry County, told The Joplin Globe that about three dozen people were evacuated overnight and that crews also had to rescue people from 29 vehicles, mostly in northern Barry County and southern Lawrence County.
“We had one gentleman who spent about two hours on top of his vehicle,” Compton said.
He said flooding in Cassville has caused an estimated $500,000 in damage.
“I think that number will grow. We’re very early in the process,” he said. “It’s still raining.”
In Texas, at least 11 people died in the strong tornadoes that swept through the Dallas area over the weekend.
The full extent of damage from Saturday’s storms along a nearly 40-mile stretch near Dallas came into clear focus Sunday. Local officials estimated as many as 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Vehicles were mangled, power lines fell and trees were toppled. Heavy rain, wind and falling temperatures hampered cleanup efforts Sunday afternoon.
“This is a huge impact on our community and we’re all suffering,” Garland Police Lt. Pedro Barineau said of the suburb about 20 miles northeast of Dallas, where eight people died, 15 were injured and about 600 structures, mostly single-family homes, were damaged.
The National Weather Service said an EF-4 tornado — the second-most powerful, with winds up to more than 200 mph — hit the town about 6:45 p.m. Saturday.
Natalie Guzman, 33, took photos of her family’s home in a Garland neighborhood. The only part of the house that appeared to be spared was the master bathroom, where her brother-in-law took shelter Saturday night.
He was the only one at home and told her he had just enough time to get himself and his dogs into the bathroom.
“It was worse than I thought,” Guzman said.
In the nearby town of Rowlett, City Manager Brian Funderburk said Sunday morning that 23 people were injured, but that there were no deaths and no reports of missing people. The weather service said damage indicated it was likely an EF-3 tornado, with winds up to 165 mph.
Dale Vermurlen lived in a Rowlett neighborhood that sustained heavy damage. His house only had minor damage, but others were flattened.
“I grabbed both dogs by the collars and held on to the toilet. I said, ‘OK, this could be it, boys.’ ”
Three other people died in Collin County, about 45 miles northeast of Dallas.
On the other side of the state, travel was discouraged throughout the entire Texas Panhandle — a 26-county area covering nearly 26,000 square miles — because blowing and drifting snow had made the roads impassable. Interstate 40, the main east-west highway across the Panhandle, was almost completely shut down.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency. There were blizzard conditions and an ice storm warning out west and flood warnings in the east, where one community had received 9 inches of rain.
In southern Illinois, authorities said three adults and two children drowned Saturday evening when the vehicle they were riding in was swept away and sank in a rain-swollen creek.
The death toll in the Southeast linked to severe weather rose to 19 on Sunday when Alabama authorities found the body of a 22-year-old man whose vehicle was swept away while attempting to cross a bridge; a 5-year-old’s body was recovered from that incident Saturday. Ten people have died in Mississippi, and six died in Tennessee. One person was killed in Arkansas.
The Star’s Brian Burnes and The Associated Press contributed to this report.