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Floods Wreak Havoc in Texas/Oklahoma

While California and other parts of the West continue to struggle with drought, May was the wettest month on record for Texas, with an average of 7.4 inches statewide as of May 28, according to the Office of State Climatologist for Texas A&M University.

Several locations in the Lone Star State have seen as much as 20 inches of rain and various rivers have overflowed their banks, leaving a path of death and destruction. So far, the flooding is linked to 37 deaths in Texas. Nine people are still missing amid predictions for more rain in coming days in areas north of Dallas and in Oklahoma. Six people have died from flooding in the Sooner State and 14 victims lost their lives in Northern Mexico. The rising waters have damaged 1,400 buildings in Houston alone.

Of course, laundry operations have been disrupted as well. Roy Cullum, a 42-year industry veteran and regional manager for Metro Linen Service, McKinney, TX, provided a brief update on the situation in his area.

“North Texas has seen incredible rainfall over the past two to three weeks,” said Cullum, who added that in recent weeks many lakes had experienced historic low levels due to dry weather. These have now come back to normal and in many cases have reached flood pool stage. That means that they must begin discharging water downstream at the rate that it’s flowing into the lakes.

“We have lakes which were 26 feet below normal now back to normal,” Cullum said. “The closest lake to Metro, Lake Lavon was 12 feet down in March. As of this moment, it is not only back to normal, but it’s over the flood pool level, which is more than 11.5 feet above normal.” Click here for details.

Droughts are common in Texas, and most of the northern part of the state began the year under an “exceptional drought” designation, he said. In light of the recent heavy rainfall, authorities have suspended those designations in most areas of the state.

Cullum described the major disruptions that Metro experienced this week due to flooding. “Tuesday our Houston office came to work after receiving 11 inches of rain in the six hours from midnight until 6 a.m., Tuesday morning,” he said. “RSRs were not able to get to work until some water receded. Some highways and service roads were impassable due to flooding. Routes didn’t return until late in the evening."

Another operator, Russell Harsch, general manager for G&K Services Inc., said his team was affected by the rains as well, but they saw improvement by mid-week. There was, "Extensive flooding throughout the city slowed down our operations on Tuesday and several employees were unable to make it to work," Harsch said. "However, our team in Houston was able to work through this difficult situation with very minimal impact on our customers. By the end of the day on Wednesday our plant was back up to full production levels and we were caught up on our delivery schedule."

Cullum noted that as the week wore on, flood-related problems continued to arise. "Many customer locations either remained closed or opened late in the latter part of the week, he said. Mass Transit systems canceled service in many areas, and some schools and universities closed as well. “We were receiving calls from customers in mid-afternoon telling us they had just opened and they could receive service if we were running.” Additional wet weather produced more damage. “Wednesday and Thursday brought more rain,” Cullum said. “Thursday authorities were still in rescue mode, adding to the casualty counts. Rivers, bayous, and waterways looked similar to the aftermath of a hurricane." Click here and here to learn more.