New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 7, 1995, New Braunfels, Texas
Sunday, May 7,1995 ■ Herald-Zeitung ■ 9 A
Storm rages through Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — One day after a storm packing 70 mph winds fired softball-sized hail at Mayfest celebrators, then swept motorists away in flash floods in Dallas, the death toll rose to at least 13 Saturday.
Rescuers were searching for at least four people known missing, after a storm pummeled North Texas on Friday night, injuring about IOO.
Ninety people were treated for mostly minor injuries ranging from cuts caused by broken glass to bruises from hailstones after the storm hit the outdoor Mayfest, Harris Methodist Fort Worth hospital nursing supervisor Marie Chilton said.
“I got hit so hard I thought I was going to pass out, and I’m not a fainting type-person,” said Kay Carlson,
one of about 2,500 people at the festival when the hail grew from pea-size to softball-size. “We saw car windows being smashed everywhere.”
Within an hour, the storm that buried some roads in up to two feet of hailstones was racing on to Dallas,^30 miles away.
At Baylor University Medical Center, patients were rushed to another floor when floodwater poured into the emergency room, mining electrical circuits and contaminating emergency equipment, spokeswoman Jennifer Coleman said.
At the Haggar Pants Service Center warehouse, at least two workers were killed and 12 were injured when the roof collapsed, Dallas Deputy Fire Chief Steve Bass said.
“I thought the devil himself had just
broke through,” janitor Jimmy Harris said.
Nine people drowned in the storms, some apparently trying to escape flood-' ed vehicles, and another two apparently killed in lighting strikes, one in Dallas and one in Irving, authorities said.
“People have been driving through high water. A lot try to get out and they got swept away from their cars,” Dallas Fire Department spokeswoman Carolyn Garcia said.
On Saturday afternoon, workers were still searching for four people feared swept away, Dallas Emergency Management spokesman Mark Flake said.
About 16,800 customers lost power, including an American Airlines terminal at Dallas-Fort Worth International
Forty flights were diverted, most to San Antonio; Tulsa, Okla.; Oklahoma City; and Houston, spokeswoman Marion Deesisto said.
In Arlington, Six Flags Over Texas was closed for mopping up, and the power was out anyway. The park was expected to reopen Sunday, spokesman Bruce Neal said.& Rafter's Grill
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Communities brace for base closing news
WASHINGTON (AP) — Communities across Texas are anxiously waiting to learn whether their military installations will be added this week to the list of those already being considered for closure or realignment.
The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission meets Wednesday to decide which bases to add to the hit list proposed in February by the Pentagon.
Three of Texas’ 19 major defense installations have been recommended for closure by the Defense Department — Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Red River Army Depot in Texarkana and Reese AFB in Lubbock. A fourth, Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, would face serious realignment under the Pentagon plan.
Now the independent base-closings commission, known as BRAC, gets its chance to add to the Defense Department list. Once the add-on decisions are made, the commission has until July I to weigh all bases on the list and decide which to keep on the chopping block. Congress must accept or reject the BRAC recommendations in their entirety, without modification.
Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio is widely viewed as the Texas installation most likely to be targeted by BRAC. In the 1993 base-closing round, the commissioners added Kelly for review but then saved the huge base in the final judgment.
Kelly’s potential vulnerability stems from the commission’s apparent disagreement with the Air Force over excess depot capacity. After toying with the idea of closing two depots, the Air Force decided to keep all five maintenance facilities off the list. It argued that closing depots would cost more up front than reducing all of the depots and ultimately would save less money.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has been working on Capitol Hill to defend the Texas bases, said there is a “reasonable chance” that the commission will add depots to the list. “If they do, I’m sure that Kelly will be added,” the Texas Republican said in a recent interview.
Paul Roberson, a retired general and project director of San Antonio’s BRAC ’95 Task Force, agreed. “My expectation at the hearinp next week is thp mmmission will add all five (Air Logistic Centers) to the review list,” he said.
If one of the Air Force depots is added for review, then all five should be, Mrs. Hutchison and Roberson stressed.
The lowest rated depot is McClellan Air Force Base in California — a politically important state that has been hard hit by previous base closures.
Kelly ranks fourth lowest, though Texas officials have questioned the numbers used to rate the depots. They also note that Kelly is the cheapest to operate and boasts unique assets, including the world’s largest airplane hangar.
Drought causes desperation on border
PHARR, Texas (AP) — Ruben Quintanilla focuses his binoculars on pumps on the opposite edge of the Rio Grande, watching powerlessly as they suck a steady torrent into a Mexican irrigation canal.
He says Mexican farmers, in broad daylight, are taking water that belongs to Texas.
“They are just sticking in IOO of them (pumps) right and left,” said Quintanilla, a Texas deputy for the Rio Grande watermaster. “They don’t care. They are desperate right now.”
If a drought in northern Mexico continues, the seeds of desperation among Mexican farmers likely will blow into Texas ranch country and the rich row crops of the Rio Grande Valley.
Illegal pumping from the Rio Grande is only part of a looming international water crisis. Reservoirs that feed the border river’s muddy flow are dangerously low, potentially drying up the key source of water in this semiarid delta.
Mexican border cities soon could ask to borrow Texas reserves to survive the summer — a prospect that bristles many Texans, including Gov. George W. Bush.
“If Mexico continues to be using water, they will be using our water,” said Texas’ Rio Grande watermaster, John Hinojosa IV. “Obviously, we will have overnight less than what we think we have.”
Mexico continued hea\7 irrigation despite a drought that began nearly two years ago in Chihuahua, the northern state whose watershed supplies most of the water in Amistad Reservoir and Falcon Lake, Hinojosa said.
Mexico has used all but 6.4 percent of its reserves in those two crucial reservoirs created by international dams of the Rio Grande. Texas, which shares the reservoirs with Mexico under a 1944 treaty, is expected to drain down to half of its reserves by July.
The forecast is bleak.
Unless major rains hit upstream between bone-dry Chihuahua and West Texas, Mexico could exhaust its reserves this month.
Hinojosa projects that most Texas farmers will have enough water to bring crops to harvest this summer, but they could wind up with nothing for irrigation next year. If Mexico continues to irrigate, his no-rain scenario has Texans running out even sooner.
Texans who use up their Rio Grande water rights must pay roughly 20 times higher prices to private water contractors or rely on iffy dry-land farming.
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