Two people, a mother in her mid-20s and her 2-year-old daughter, drowned after their car was swept off the road in flooding in Fort Worth Saturday morning as rains inundated North Texas and caused steadily worsening traffic conditions.
The woman and toddler were in a mid-sized sedan traveling on the access road of Loop 820 and were swept away by the high water down a culvert, according to James McAmis, Fort Worth Fire Department battalion chief.
Emergency crews had gotten a report of a car running off the freeway at 4501 East Loop 820 and into a creek.
“When we got here the water was 30 feet deep and we couldn’t go in,” McAmis said.
An elderly man was found dead about 2:30 p.m. nearby after dive teams pulled his body from his submerged vehicle near South Cravens Road and Oakdale Drive, McAmis said.
He was later identified as 69-year-old Eddy Volpp, of Arlington, according to a FOX4 report.
Firefighters had been called by a witness about 11 a.m. who said a car had been washed away by high water, but firefighters were not able to find the vehicle because it was covered in water, McAmis said.
Once the water receded firefighters were called back to the area and were able to locate the vehicle because its top was visible, McAmis said
McAmis said firefighters had responded to somewhere between 15 and 20 high water calls before 12:30 p.m. The rain was subsiding and the floodwaters receding, but McAmis said motorists should still avoid the areas northeast of Interstate 35, where rain was still coming down at 12:30 p.m.
It was flooding at Bristol and Templeton roads — near West 7th and University — and nearby streets during the height of the rain. By 11:30 am, the water had receded and cars were able to drive through. But at its worst, floodwater covered driveways and yards, turning the area into a muddy pool.
Water threatened at least two duplexes, but receded before causing damage. At one point, trash cans, construction cones and trash floated from Bristol and downstream to University. A few residents got into the water to remove the larger items from blocking the drainage systems. Several people had to run outside to move their vehicles to higher ground.
The National Weather Service in Fort Worth issued a flash flood watch in effect until 12:45 p.m. As much as 5 inches of rain an hour was falling in Fort Worth, meteorologists said.
Police responded to 10 high water reports between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Police in the field were referring to area roads, including Vickery Street, Rosedale Street, Riverside Drive, Sylvania Avenue and others as “rivers” and “lakes.”
They spoke of vehicles filling up with water.
Wrong way drivers were being reported on Interstate 30 near Lancaster Avenue as drivers tried to avoid floodwaters.
Police said at one point more than a dozen streets would be closed off due to flooding. Emergency medical personnel reported 33 vehicle crashes between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. that caused injuries and five of them were rollovers.
“Unfortunately, it’s not very good driving conditions, the risk of wrecks is increased,” said Juan Hernandez, a weather service meteorologist. “Visibility is hampered and braking distance is increased. Take it slow and be cautious of those around you.”
Motorists should simply turn around when they encounter high waters, said Fort Worth police spokesman Jimmy Pollozani.
The rain should start to leave the area this afternoon, Hernandez said.
The area around Lake Arlington was hit hard, recording more than 3 inches of rain since midnight, said Jason Godwin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Nearly 3 inches fell just east of downtown Fort Worth and 2.6 inches of rain was recorded in downtown Fort Worth, Godwin said.
The heavier rain had pushed south of Fort Worth by 4 p.m. in the areas around Waco and Corsicana, Godwin said. The storms were moving southeast about 10 mph and were expected to hit Limestone, Freestone and Falls counties later Saturday afternoon.
The rain should have moved completely out of the area by Sunday, with some sun returning by the afternoon, according to weather service forecasters.
“Overall, we’re going to see a decrease in rain by this afternoon in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and after that we’ve got a pretty dry forecast,” he said. “There’s a small chance of rain Wednesday afternoon, but overall it should be pretty dry.”
Staff writer Nichole Manna contributed to this report.