More than 20 dead in wake of ‘epic’ hur­ri­cane

The West Australian - - NEWS -

The big­gest rain­storm in the his­tory of the con­ti­nen­tal US fi­nally be­gan to move away from Hous­ton yes­ter­day as the rem­nants of hur­ri­cane Har­vey and its end­less rain bands spun east to men­ace Louisiana in­stead.

But, af­ter more than 1250mm of rain over four days, Hous­ton was less of a city and more of an ar­chi­pel­ago: a chain of ur­banised is­lands in a muddy brown sea. All around it, flat-bot­tomed boats and he­li­copters were still pluck­ing vic­tims from rooftops, and wa­ter was still pour­ing in from over­filled reser­voirs and swollen rivers.

Be­tween 25 per cent and 30 per cent of Har­ris County — home to 4.5 mil­lion peo­ple in Hous­ton and near sub­urbs — was flooded by Tues­day af­ter­noon, ac­cord­ing to an es­ti­mate from Jeff Lind­ner, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist with the county flood con­trol dis­trict.

On Tues­day, au­thor­i­ties found the body of a Hous­ton po­lice of­fi­cer who had drowned in his pa­trol car two days ear­lier, at the storm’s height. Sgt Steve Perez, a vet­eran of­fi­cer, was on his way to work on Sun­day morn­ing — spend­ing 21⁄2 hours look­ing for a path through rain­lashed streets — when he drove into a flooded un­der­pass.

Hous­ton Po­lice Chief Art Acevedo said Sgt Perez’s wife had asked him not to go in that day.

He went, Chief Acevedo said, “be­cause his DNA”.

In Beau­mont, a shiver­ing tod­dler was found cling­ing to her drowned mother in a rainswollen canal af­ter the woman tried to carry the child to safety.

Capt. Brad Penis­son of the fire-res­cue de­part­ment in Beau­mont said the woman’s ve­hi­cle got stuck on Tues­day af­ter­noon in a flooded park­ing lot and she was swept into a flooded drainage canal. Po­lice and fire-res­cue team in a boat caught up to them a half-mile down­stream, he said.

Capt. Penis­son said the child was in a sta­ble con­di­tion at Christus St Elizabeth Hos­pi­tal.

Au­thor­i­ties said at least 22 peo­ple had been con­firmed dead. But they said it was dif­fi­cult to know how many more were miss­ing. Of­fi­cials released wa­ter from reser­voirs to ease the pres­sure, but at least one of the reser­voirs still over­flowed.

Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties es­ti­mated that 30,000 peo­ple could be forced from their homes in Texas and sur­round­ing States. he has that in

President Donald Trump flew to Texas on Tues­day, vis­it­ing Cor­pus Christi where the storm made land­fall and meet­ing State of­fi­cials in the cap­i­tal, Austin.

At one point, he shouted to a crowd out­side a fire sta­tion in Cor­pus Christi: “This is his­toric, it’s epic what hap­pened.

“But you know what, it hap­pened in Texas and Texas can han­dle any­thing.”

The storm made land­fall again late yes­ter­day near Cameron, in west­ern Louisiana, af­ter hov­er­ing in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

Fore­cast­ers say up to 250mm of rain could fall in west­ern Louisiana.

Across Texas, the storm has shut down 14 oil re­finer­ies, caus­ing dam­age at some that released harm­ful chem­i­cals.

In Crosby, a fer­tiliser plant was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion af­ter its re­frig­er­a­tion sys­tem and in­un­dated back-up power gen­er­a­tors failed, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that the volatile chem­i­cals on the site would ex­plode.

Peo­ple evac­u­ate a neigh­bour­hood in west Hous­ton in­un­dated by flood­wa­ters af­ter a re­lease from nearby Ad­dicks Reser­voir.

A Na­tional Guard mem­ber car­ries Daniel Lopez to dry ground.

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