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Tropical Storm Hermine Floods South Texas

RAYMONDVILLE, Texas - Its power spent, what was left of Tropical Storm Hermine made its way north Wednesday, having drenched parts of northeastern Mexico and south Texas before weakening.

Remnants of the storm that was downgraded to a tropical depression Tuesday night could spread as far north as Oklahoma and Kansas in the coming days.

The storm brought winds gusting to about 70 mph and downpours to Texas but left only minor scrapes in the storm-weary Rio Grande Valley, which is proving resilient this hurricane season after taking a third tropical system on the chin.

The storm struck the flood-prone valley just after the cleanup finished from Hurricane Alex at the start of the summer and an unnamed tropical depression in July. Only last week had Hidalgo County on the U.S.-Mexico border stowed its last water pump.

But Hermine's remnants were expected to cover more of the U.S. than Alex, which swiped Texas in June as a Category 1 storm before plunging southwest and breaking up over Mexico.

"This is going to be much more of a memorable storm than Alex," National Weather Service meteorologist Joseph Tomaselli said.

Fortunately, this time, much of the 5 inches to a foot of rain from Hermine fell harmlessly in the Gulf, and flooding was limited to only minor nuisances. Up to 4 inches of rain was reported in south Texas, with more rain expected in central and north Texas Wednesday as the storm's core continued to move north, according to the National Weather Service.

Hermine made landfall early Tuesday in northeastern Mexico with winds of up to 65 mph (100 kph), arriving near the same spot as Alex. By Tuesday night, maximum winds speeds had decreased to about 35 mph (55 kph).

A peeled-back motel roof in the coastal farming town of Raymondville and scattered power outages were about the worst left over from the gusty, drenching storm that came and went quickly after creeping up on Texas and Mexico in the warm Gulf waters over the long holiday weekend.

"I think we're lucky. It could've been worse," said Art Nelson, sizing up the hulking aluminum shed that collapsed on a farming plow at his John Deere store in Raymondville.

The Coast Guard said it received multiple reports of vessels in distress late Monday and early Tuesday. Monday evening's incoming tide freed a fishing boat that had run aground in the Brownsville Ship Channel near Port Isabel, but Coast Guard crews and other officials had to rescue 17 crew members and a dog from three other fishing vessels that got stuck near the South Padre Island beach. All were treated for minor injuries, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

Mexico felt the storm effects much more acutely than Texas on Tuesday as Hermine knocked out power for several hours in the border city of Matamoros and damaged about 20 homes, whose inhabitants were among 3,500 people who evacuated to shelters.

Authorities in Mexico said there were no reports of serious injuries or death, which was welcome news after 12 people in Mexico died in flooding caused by Hurricane Alex earlier this summer.

Authorities had released water from some dams in Mexico to make room for expected runoff. That added more anxiety in the northeast cattle-ranching region where residents already live under the fear of a bloody turf war between drug cartels. Hermine struck around the same area where 72 migrants were killed two weeks ago in what is believed to be the country's worst drug gang massacre to date.

___

Associated Press Writers Jorde Vargas in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Emilio Lopez in Pachuca, Mexico, and Terry Wallace and Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.
 



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