Floodwaters drop, bodies found
As storm moves on to Louisiana, Houston deals with aftermath
As Harvey’s floodwaters started dropping across much of the Houston area Wednesday, the storm began to give up its dead.
Authorities confirmed the deaths of six members of the Saldivar family — Manuel and Belia Saldivar, both in their 80s, teenagers Devy and Dominic, eight-year-old Xavier and sixyear-old Daisy — who were attempting to flee a flash flood when the van they were riding in was submerged in water, according to Ric Saldivar, who is one of the elder Saldivars’ sons.
The group had piled into a van being driven by Sammy Saldivar, 56, one of Ric’s brothers, Saturday.
As they approached a bridge, Sammy saw it was covered in water. However, according to Ric Saldivar, they kept driving, because the guardrails were still showing. But the road dipped sharply on the other side of the bridge, he said. Suddenly, the van was floating and taking on water. Sammy Saldivar squeezed out of a window and clung to a tree branch. No one else made it out of the van.
“He was yelling at the kids to climb out of the back of the van; I’m sure they couldn’t reach it,” said Ric, relaying the narrative provided to him by Sammy. “He could hear the kids screaming, but couldn’t push the doors open. That’s what he keeps hearing in his head. And the van just went underwater and was gone.”
On Saturday, Alexander Sung, 64, was busy racing around his clock repair store, laying down newspaper and lifting the most valuable timepieces to the highest shelves.
“Sweetie, I have to call you back!” he told his daughter, Alicia Contreras.
Later she received a text. “I love you sweetie,” Sung assured his daughter. “You guys are all I have.”
His body was recovered from his shop Sunday.
In a rain-swollen canal in Beaumont, Tex., authorities found a shivering toddler clinging to the body of her drowned mother after the woman tried to carry her child to safety.
Capt. Brad Penisson of the fire-rescue department in Beaumont said the woman’s vehicle got stuck Tuesday in a flooded parking lot. Squalls from Harvey were pounding Beaumont with up to five centimetres of rain an hour at the time with 60 km/h gusts.
Penisson said a witness saw the woman take her 18-month-old daughter and try to walk to safety when the swift current of a flooded drainage canal swept them away.
The child was holding onto the floating woman when a police and fire-rescue team in a boat caught up to them downstream, he said. Rescuers pulled them into the boat just before they would have gone under a railroad trestle. First responders tried to revive the woman, but she never regained consciousness.
Penisson said the child was in stable condition in hospital.
While conditions in Houston appeared to improve, the disaster took a turn for the worse near the Texas-Louisiana state line.
The Texas communities of Beaumont and Port Arthur struggled with rising floodwaters and worked to evacuate residents after Harvey rolled ashore early Wednesday for the second time in six days, hitting southwestern Louisiana as a tropical storm.
For much of the Houston area, forecasters said the rain is pretty much over and the water is already back within its channels in some places.
Emergency authorities said more than 1,000 homes were destroyed and close to 50,000 damaged, and more than 32,000 people were in shelters.
Authorities expect the death toll to rise. Harris County officials are investigating 17 deaths — on top of an official death toll of 21 — to determine whether they were storm-related.
The floodwaters were receding in Houston Wednesday and rescue workers and volunteers were travelling in boats rescuing residents trapped by the deluge caused by Hurricane Harvey.