Image: Dulce Martinez, left, and her boyfriend Adrian Palomares walk through a flooded street to their house after Hurricane Dolly, Thursday, July 24, 2008, in San Benito, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Residents and recovery teams began fanning out across south Texas Thursday and cars crept along roads with darkened stoplights as the region got its first look at the destruction left by Hurricane Dolly. Traffic picked up on local roads littered with debris as people emerged for the first time in more than 24 hours after Dolly's soaking rains and punishing winds. After crashing ashore on South Padre Island, the storm ripped roofs from homes, flooded roads and downed power lines, but the Rio Grande levees officials had feared could breach held strong. Hurricane Dolly slammed ashore as a Category 2 hurricane midday Wednesday and then loitered over deep south Texas as a tropical storm, dumping as much as a foot of rain in places and bringing 100 mph winds. Those winds had dropped by half Thursday morning. While THE RAIN SET RECORDS in Brownsville's Cameron County — ranging from six to 12 inches with another three to seven expected overnight — they did not appear to pose the threat to the Rio Grande's levees that had been feared. The river rose steadily through the day in Brownsville, but did not reach flood stage. The torrential rains and fierce winds that lasted much of the day in south Texas still caught some by surprise. By Wednesday afternoon, the community of Laureles north of Los Fresnos had been reduced to a chain of sunken islands, separated from the main roads by floodwaters of two feet or more in places. No deaths were immediately reported in Mexico, but in Tamaulipas 50 neighborhoods were still in danger from flooding. The last hurricane to hit the U.S. was the fast-forming Humberto, which came ashore in southeast Texas last September. The busiest part of the Atlantic hurricane season is usually in August and September. So far this year, there have been four named storms, two of which became hurricanes. Federal forecasters predict a total of 12 to 16 named storms and six to nine hurricanes this season.
Adapting to the damaging effects of climate change, plants are gradually moving to where temperatures are cooler, rainfall is greater, f...