By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The Brazos River in Texas surged to its highest in more than a century in an area outside of Houston on Wednesday after floods killed at least six people, damaged hundreds of buildings and turned roads into lakes over the past week.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flash flood watch for large parts of the state, includes sections near Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. Storms lasting until the weekend could send even more rivers over their banks, it said.
The NWS reported the Brazos River, which winds over 840 miles across Texas, reached levels not seen since 1913 about 30 miles (50 kms) southwest of Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States.
Houston has activated its emergency operations center as forecasters warned of heavy rains and flooding. Emergency shelters were opened in the Houston area.
Flooding around Houston in April left eight people dead and damaged some 1,500 homes.
In the most recent floods, hundreds of people across the state have fled their homes.
"It's scary, we have never had anything like this before," said Mary Hernandez of Richmond in metropolitan Houston, where evacuations were underway.
Evacuation orders have been issued for parts of Rosenberg, another town along the Brazos and not far from Richmond.
More than 120 high-water boat rescues from buildings and cars have been reported in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston.
Several rivers in southeastern and eastern Texas were in a major flood stage. While relatively rare, forecasters have seen a number of such events in Texas over the past year, said National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Burke.
(Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Jeffrey Benkoe)