A woman and her four young grandchildren were killed early Saturday morning after a nearby creek flooded over, causing a quiet, deadly surge through a small town in Texas.
Lenda Asberry, 64 and her four grandchildren — Venetia Asberry, 9, Devonte Asberry, 8, Von Anthony Johnson Jr, 7, and Jamonicka Johnson, 6 — drowned in their home due to a fast and powerful flooding, Palestine Police Department Captain James Muniz said Sunday.
Palestine police officers began receiving calls at 12:15 a.m. on Saturday that heavy floodwaters, which had begun to build up on Friday evening, had reached roof level in some neighborhoods, according to a statement by Muniz.
"The water got up here extraordinarily quickly. The individuals tried to get out, however, the water was already on the roof of the home," Muniz said.
Another representative from the police department, Kyle Betterton, told The Weather Channel that their department is "devastated."
The body of a 30-year-old Palestine man, Giovani Olivas, was also found Saturday afternoon, Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor confirmed, bringing the death toll in the most recent storms up to six.
"I don't recall ever seeing this much water rise so fast and in such a short period of time," Palestine Mayor Bob Herrington said in a statement of condolence to the family of the victims.
The National Weather Service for Fort Worth issued a severe thunderstorm warning on Saturday morning around 1 a.m. local time for Palestine that was expected to last until 1:30 a.m.
At 3:45 a.m., authorities were alerted to reports of a family that had gone missing in the area most affected by the flooding.
“Upon arrival, a search was conducted, going house to house, in [waist-deep] floodwater, first responders and residents attempted to located an adult woman, and four grandchildren,” Muniz said.
A neighbor then notified police that he had found the bodies of two children in the front yard of a house close to the street. Officers then found two more children and their grandmother shortly after.
City officials wrote on Twitter that they were assessing damage from the flooding.
Temporary shelters for those displaced by the waters have been established near the areas most affected by the storm.
“It is too early to know the full extent of the damage," Herrington said in the statement, "we have homes and businesses that have suffered flood damage and many of our roads have suffered significant deterioration as well."
The flood has also affected homes in Louisiana, shutting down an interstate highway.
Strong winds in the Houston area overturned trees and cut power lines, Reuters reported. More than 4,200 Texans lost power Saturday morning.
Texas and Oklahoma saw seven reported tornadoes and a twister Friday, causing damage to multiple structures.
The overnight floods are the latest in a spate of fatal storms in Texas. On April 18, six people were killed after unprecedented floods hit Houston.
Thumbnail photo credit: David J. Phillip / AP Photo
Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.
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