A man who bystanders said was clinging to a tree in the South Llano River is rescued by helicopter, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 in Junction, Texas. Crews in boats and helicopters are searching for at least four people missing since heavy rain washed away a recreational vehicle park in a small West Texas city. (Jamie "Adventureman" McDonald via AP)

Officials: 4 people remain missing in West Texas flooding

October 09, 2018 - 11:23 am

DALLAS (AP) — The search resumed Tuesday morning for four people missing since a West Texas recreational vehicle park was overrun by raging floodwaters that prompted dramatic air and water rescues in a small West Texas city.

Heavy rains Sunday night caused the South Llano River to rise and submerge parts of Junction, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) west of Austin. Emergency crews looked for the four Monday, but abandoned the search as darkness fell and more rain set in.

"They started (the) search at daybreak, but the river is rising again, with more rain expected," Texas Game Warden Rachel Kellner said Tuesday, adding that it was very windy.

Kellner said crews were walking the banks of the South Llano River and there were boats with search crews in the river. She said the current was too strong for some boats and because of the weather conditions, no helicopters could get into the air.

"The river is full of debris," Kellner said. "RVs, boats, fences ... normally it's a nice, crystal clear river, but right now it's a muddy mess."

Kellner says the four missing are one woman and three men. Officials on Monday said all four missing were men. She said there were no other people known to be missing.

Right after the South Llano RV Park was overtaken with water Monday, officials were able to rescue about 40 people by throwing them life jackets or ropes. But then the water got too high and they needed helicopters and boats for the rescues.

Authorities rescued 15 by boat and four by helicopter Monday, including, Kellner said, two people and a dog who were plucked from a tree. She said one woman floated about 18 miles (28 kilometers) down the river on debris before being rescued. She only sustained cuts and bruises.

National Weather Service meteorologist Stephen Harrison said more than 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain has fallen in the area since Sunday and that more is expected.

"There's still the possibility some more flooding could occur in that area," Harrison said Tuesday, adding that the afternoon was forecast to be dry.

Jamie McDonald captured one of the helicopter rescues on camera outside his hotel. McDonald, also known as "Adventureman," is an author and motivational speaker and was visiting the city as he runs across America to raise money for children's hospitals.

McDonald said he heard people shouting and screaming and opened the hotel room door. He found people on the balcony and saw a man in the water holding onto a tree.

"There was one guy just clinging on to dear life," he said in an interview Monday, describing the scene as "heartbreaking." At one point, McDonald said the man became separated from a tree and it was uncertain whether he would make it out OK because the current was so strong.

McDonald's footage shows onlookers worrying from afar.

"Get a hold of something," one person says.

"God help him please," another says.

Later, the man was hoisted up from the water by helicopter and safely lowered down to a parking lot, McDonald said. He said the man, who was naked, appeared bruised and battered.

"I can't believe they actually rescued him," McDonald says on the video. "That was incredible, just amazing support."

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Associated Press reporter Ken Miller in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

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