HALLETTSVILLE, Texas -- Authorities searched today for as many as six people missing in flash floods from a Gulf storm that spun tornadoes across south Texas, dumped more than 17 inches of rain and swept three brothers to their deaths.
National Guardsmen patrolled streets in Hallettsville and other flooded communities where there were reports of looting after more than 500 hundred residents were forced to flee their homes.
In Galveston, where four tornadoes touched down late Monday in winds clocked up to 77 mph, officials said there were scattered reports of injuries, but it was not immediately known if any were serious.
Shiner Mayor Arthur Ward said Glenn Hights, 17, and two of his brothers -- Johnny, 15, and Bradford, 13 -- drowned early Monday trying to escape rising waters on Rocky Creek in Lavaca County, 100 miles east of San Antonio.
A fourth brother, 16-year-old Greg Hights, survived the flood which swept away the family's mobile home and was rescued as he clung to a tree in the swollen creek. No one else was in the home.
Authorities said the brothers apparently heard the rushing water and the three who died went into a frame house in front of their mobile home while Greg climbed onto the roof of the frame house about 4:30 a.m.
The bodies were found about a mile downstream, said the Shiner justice of the peace, Daniel Peters.
In Hallettsville, 10 miles east of Shiner, at least four other people were reported missing, said Lavaca County Deputy Sheriff Sheila Perkins. She said the reports were unconfirmed.
'Witnesses saw three people in a car get washed away,' Ms. Perkins said. 'Other people saw a man get swept away and we found his lunch bucket nearby.'
A Department of Public Safety spokesman in Victoria had reports of two men missing in Hallettsville, but it was not known if they were included in Ms. Perkins' tally. The spokesman identified them as Herman Reyna of Yoakum and Sam Goode Jr. of Halletsville.
'Their vehicles were found abandoned near the flood area,' the spokesman said. 'They are presumed missing.'
The heavy rains measured by the National Weather Service at 17 inches within 24 hours in some areas, were sparked by remnants of a tropical depression that pushed inland over south Texas.
Several hundred people were evacuated from Hallettsville, Shiner and Moulton, which were mostly submerged under floodwaters. They remained in evacuation shelters late Monday, a DPS spokesman in Victoria said.
The Galveston tornadoes tore the roof off of the Broadway movie theater downtown and pushed a docked ship into another ship.
In Houston, widespread flooding forced the Metropolitan Transit Authority to pull all 350 buses off the streets at noon, stranding 80,000 commuters, but bus runs restarted when rains slowed later in the day.
In the Aldine area of north Houston, more than 100 students were forced to stay after school until floodwaters covering the roads to their homes withdrew.
Classes were canceled at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University because of street flooding.