Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Hundreds forced from Kansas, Texas homes as Plains battle results of heavy rains

Rivers swollen by days of heavy rain were creeping dangerously upward across the U.S. Plains, even after sunshine returned to southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri.

The Kansas National Guard were helping with evacuations in Osawatomie, in eastern Kansas, one of the hardest-hit communities in the region. About 40 percent of the town's 4,600 residents were ordered to leave when areas near two rivers flooded.

The levees and dikes held, after reinforcement work by volunteers with sandbags, but rainwater pooling in low-lying areas overwhelmed pumps and flooded neighborhoods.

Retired welder Claude Blackmon, 65, was able to save his lawnmower, guns and some important papers from his mobile home, where he lived for two years after his wife died. The rest of his belongings, including new appliances and family heirlooms, were inundated in water that nearly covered the trailer. None of it was insured, he said.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "I'm a little too old to start over now."

Storms have claimed 11 lives in northern and central Texas in the past two weeks. Authorities were still searching for two 20-year-old men from Leander whose Jeep Cherokee was found submerged in a creek Thursday.

U.S. President George W. Bush declared Texas a major disaster area Friday, ordering federal aid for Cooke, Coryell, Denton, Grayson, Lampasas and Tarrant counties.

Gov. Rick Perry declared disaster areas in 37 counties across Texas. Residents of those counties would have access to state assistance programs.

The weather service measured more than 11 inches (28 centimeters) of rain in June at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, about a half-inch (1 centimeter) shy of the 1928 record.

The storms resulted in 152 flight cancellations and 56 diversions Sunday at the airport, while other travelers experienced flight delays of about one hour, airport spokesman David Magana said.

At least 200 people have been displaced from their homes near the Brazos River in Texas' Parker County. Some houses sustained minimal damage, while up to 4 feet (1 meters) of water had seeped into others.

Some of the worst flooding Sunday in Oklahoma was near Bartlesville, where the Caney River was more than 3 feet (1 meters) above flood stage.

Amtrak's Heartland Flyer passenger rail system between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth was halted Sunday because of flooding in north Texas, and passengers were bussed instead, said Terry Angier, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

In north Texas, hundreds of residents near the overflowing Wichita and Brazos rivers remained evacuated Sunday.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday added six more counties to her declaration of a state of emergency, including Allen, Cherokee, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood and Miami, and said she planned to survey the damage Monday.

"It's going to be a few days before we get some of the higher rivers to come down," said Maren Stoflet, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

In Independence and Coffeyville, officials were preparing for more flooding along the Verdigris River, which already has set record levels, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planned to open floodgates at the Elk City and Fall River Toronto Lake reservoirs upstream to alleviate pressure.

The Verdigris River at Independence set a new record of 52.4 feet (16 meters) Sunday morning, shattering the old mark of 47.6 feet (14.5 meters) and more than 20 feet (6.1 meters) above flood stage.