SHREVEPORT, La. -- The last destructive gasp of Hurricane Bonnie tore into the nation's heartland, spawning tornadoes and dumping up to 10 inches of rain that caused flooding in three states.
The dying tropical storm's last breath swept the Plains with 80 mph winds, pelted everything in its wake with heavy rain and hurled tornadoes into four states Friday.
By today, only an area of thunderstorms was left of the hurricane that was blamed for four deaths since washing ashore in East Texas on Thursday, forcing the evacuation of about 30,000 coastal dwellers.
'The remnants of Hurricane Bonnie are not even recognizable,' Larry Shaw, a spokesman with the National Weather Service in New Orleans, said today.
'You can't really tell where Bonnie is. Only an area of thunderstorms remains,' he said.
Shaw said heavy rains pounded Arkansas, northeastern Louisiana and central Mississippi, but the only winds are those triggered by thunderstorms. A flash flood warning remained in effect for northeast Louisiana, he said.
In Union County, Ark., heavy rains washed out roads and bridges, a spokesman in the sheriff's office said.
'The only problem we've got is road conditions,' said Deputy Rance Nation Jr.
'We've got secondary roads and bridges washed out all over the county. We've got 20 or 30 bridges out in different areas and we've had to close a bunch of roads and reroute traffice to other roads.' pickup5thgraf: The body
Luther Terry, 64, of Kilgore, Texas, was recovered Friday about 200 yards from where his boat capsized in high winds the night before. Two of his companions were rescued.
Three other deaths in Texas Thursday were blamed on Bonnie. Two men were killed in traffic accidents near Vidor and Orange, and a partially paralyzed woman died in a house fire in Port Arthur.
Residents along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana Friday began cleaning up after the season's first hurricane, which whipped ashore a day earlier. Rescuers spent much of the day helping people from their flooded homes in Caddo and Bossier parishes in northwestern Louisiana.
Jeanne Ann Crutchfield of the National Red Cross said 300 homes were heavily damaged in Beaumont, Texas, where Bonnie came ashore. At least 296 homes were affected, and 35 were totally destroyed, in Shreveport.
'The damage that hit there (Beaumont) was almost identical to the flooding here,' she said. 'It look like its going to do more damage since it was downgraded.
Residents of two subdivisions south of Shreveport were warned to leave their homes late Friday because water was expected to rise as it drained from northern parts of the city, officials said.
Flood waters remained up to 5 feet deep in some areas of northwestern Louisiana and forecasters predicted up to 5 inches of rain for northern and central Louisiana and southeastern Arkansas today. Forecasters also predicted rain-swollen bayous, rivers and lakes would continue to rise for the next several days.
In southern Arkansas, officials were forced to close U.S. 79 and three other roads in southern Nevada and northern Columbia counties because of high water. Authorities also reported flooded streets and water in some homes in El Dorado, Magnolia and Stephens.
At least three tornadoes ripped through Louisiana Friday. The first overturned an airplane at Shreveport Downtown Airport, damaged the roof of a house and blew out windows, said Chuck Mazziotti, director of the Caddo-Bossier Civil Defense. No injuries were reported.
Twin tornadoes whirled over Springhill late Friday, injuring seven people, destroying three mobile homes, damaging at least six other buildings and ripping down power and telephone lines.
One of the tornadoes plowed a path 200 yards wide and one-fourth mile long, destroying a mobile home but leaving a dresser and mirror from the household unscathed.
Several highways near the Texas-Louisiana line were forced to close Friday because of high water as well as less-traveled roads and at least one bridge. Dozens of cars stalled at flooded underpasses and intersections, and several neighborhoods and trailer parks were underwater.
In the coastal areas of Texas where Bonnie stormed ashore, hundreds of extra utility crewmen worked to restore power to some 60,000 households knocked off line by the storm.
Civil Defense officials in the Beaumont-Port-Arthur-Bolivar Peninsula area surveyed the damage to determine whether to seek state and federal emergency disaster declarations, which would make available low-interest loans and grants to rebuild homes and business.
A preliminary estimate showed about $5 million worth of damage in Texas. Estimates of damage in Louisiana were not available.
In Liberty County, the heavy storm rains combined with an accumulation of earlier rains to push over the Big Thicket Estate Dam, wash away its earthen sections and flood homes.
About 250 people were forced to evacuate where the Trinity River spilled over its banks and flooded their homes.