More than 20 dead in wake of ‘epic’ hurricane
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.