Body of 4-year-old boy recovered from floodwaters amid more than 200 rescues across Texas

The death is the 1st reported fatality following storms that prompted disaster declarations for over 1/3 of the state's counties

BySara Tonks, CNN Meteorologist, Joe Sutton, Paradise Afshar, and Melissa Alonso, CNN
Monday, May 6, 2024
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FORT WORTH, Texas -- The body of a 4-year-old boy was recovered from floodwaters near Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday, as search and rescue teams statewide continue to patrol streets and neighborhoods inundated by rainfall.

The death is the first reported fatality following storms that have prompted disaster declarations for over a third of the state's counties.

Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator Jamie Moore said the deceased boy was found after authorities responded to a call around 2 a.m. for a vehicle stuck in rapidly moving water, in Johnson County, about 30 miles south of Fort Worth.

The boy, Lucas Warren, along with his mother Chelsea Warren and her husband, all got out of the car, but a 911 caller said they were swept into the floodwaters when they tried to get to safe ground, according to Moore.

"A current came up real high, and he just let go," Chelsey Warren told Fort Worth TV station KXAS. "And I didn't hear anything from him. I think he just went under."

First responders arrived and were able to rescue the man and woman around 5 a.m., said Moore, who was involved in the search. The man and woman were transported to the hospital.

The body of the boy, who was going to turn 5 in three weeks, was found in the water around 7:20 a.m., Moore said.

"I hope you will keep this family in your prayers," Moore told CNN.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family of Lucas Warren. CNN has verified the page with GoFundMe.

With days of rain, rivers farther south have swollen, leaving homes and businesses flooded and thousands of people displaced.

At least 224 people have been rescued from homes and vehicles in Harris County, an official said Saturday night, with evacuation orders and flood watches in place, as more rain descended on the state Sunday, with a bull's-eye of excessive rainfall over the already waterlogged Houston area. No deaths or serious injuries had been reported in the area, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told CNN, adding 153 pets have also been rescued during the deluge.

"It's been really sad to see the impact of people's livelihoods, homes, infrastructure as well as just the public infrastructure," Hidalgo told CNN on Saturday.

"We're really asking folks to give it a minute before they go back home."

CNN's Rosa Flores rode in a boat Sunday with rescuers from the Harris County Sheriff's Office and said the craft passed over fences and mailboxes. Stop signs were at eye level.

In some areas, the water had receded Sunday but was still very high.

The first responders took CNN to an area where the banks of the San Jacinto River were not visible.

"It's kinda hard to tell where the river ends," Lt. David Jasper said.

Many people in Houston were evacuated before the worst of the severe weather, Brent Taylor, chief communications officer for the Houston Office of Emergency Management, told CNN's Amara Walker.

"We have Houston Police and Houston Fire who are patrolling these neighborhoods that are near the river and where the water is gone so high," Taylor said. "There's been some instances where it's someone just yelling for help saying, 'Hey, I'm stuck over here!'"

"We have high water rescue vehicles. We have Jet Skis, we have air boats. Our Houston Public Works Department has dump trucks that can be outfitted to move people through those high waters, so it really is a unified effort to make sure that these Houstonians are staying safe," he added.

Not everyone wanted to leave their homes, Deputy Darrell Bailey of the Harris County Sheriff's Office told CNN's crew on their ride-along.

"They have a lot of people in the area who don't want to leave because they'd have no place to go and they don't want to go to the shelter," he said.

The website for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's West Gulf River Forecast Center shows seven river gauges in Texas in major flood stage, 19 in moderate flooding and 36 in minor flooding.

Forecast calls for some rain into Tuesday

Conditions were improving as Monday drew closer.

The National Weather Service office in Houston posted on X at 7 p.m. CT: "After 93 hours in effect, the Flood Watch has finally expired."

Earlier, the office said 1 to 3 more inches of rain were possible by Monday morning, and some areas could see up to 4 to 8 inches. There was a 20% chance of rain Monday morning, forecasters said.

"Moderate to major river flooding will remain a concern through the next several days to over a week," the office said.

Rainfall amounts in the region have been huge over the past week, with some areas picking up two months' worth of rain in five days. Early Sunday, the weather service listed some of the rainfall totals it collected:

  • Groveton, TX- 23.56"
  • Huntsville, TX- 21.76"
  • Splendora, TX- 21.01"
  • Willis, TX- 20.75"
  • Livingston, TX- 18.42"

The rest of the week's forecast for Houston is showing dry weather and warm temperatures from Monday through Saturday, with lots of sunshine during the latter part of the week to help dry the region out.

This week's storms were just the latest in a series of brutal weather events that have pounded the state since early April. Dozens of tornadoes have hit from the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast, some areas of the state have been pounded with softball-sized hail and months of rain has fallen in East Texas in intense spurts, causing rivers to rise to levels not seen since the devastating floods of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

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