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Texas: Flooded With Tears

The rains have stopped in Southeast Texas, but it feels like some towns will never see sunshine again, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod. Heartbreak remains as swollen waterways recede, leaving behind at least 29 deaths and millions of dollars in destruction.

The Texas governor's office said Saturday that losses from the floods are approaching half a billion dollars.

At the flood-ravaged home of Toni Lopez, there was little left but the family rosary beads.

Toni Lopez (CBS)"You never dream it can happen to you," said a tearful Lopez. "And we have worked 36 years, my husband and I, 36 years to have everything in that house - a four-bedroom brick home, and it's gone."
The Colorado River is swallowing the small town of Wharton, Texas. The Colorado topped 47 feet Thursday, surpassing the record 46.1-foot mark set during December 1991 floods. Officials believed the river would crest Friday about 48.5 feet. Streets dry 24 hours earlier became swamps as the river swelled, surprising those who failed to heed earlier warnings to flee.

Rescuers came by in boats, but some residents remained stubborn. Even after six days of watching the heartache unfold elsewhere in the state, residents of Wharton are still reluctant to pack up and get out, including 94-year-old Ira Mae Anderson, who waved off rescuers for most of the day before coming by airboat late Thursday afternoon.

One of the dead was 2-month-old Mallory Hartman, a baby who drowned in a creek with her mother, Jennifer Allensworth, and two other relatives. The four were headed back to San Antonio after a wedding when their car was washed away six days ago.

Justin Hartman, who was Mallory's father and Allensworth's fiance, fainted as the vehicle containing their bodies was pulled from the creek bed Thursday.

"That's all he had, Jennifer and his baby. It was everything to him," said Tanya Griffin, Mallory's great-aunt.

Also found Thursday in Caldwell County, south of Austin, was 7-year-old Devon McCoy. He was in a Chevrolet Suburban when it was swept off a county road last weekend. Ten-year-old Heather Cottle was in the car with him. Her body was found earlier this week.

President Clinton earlier declared 20 Texas counties federal disaster areas, making them eligible for federal aid, as state officials put preliminary damage estimates at $400 million. Gov. George W. Bush asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add to the declaration five more counties in Southeast Texas.

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