Flood­wa­ters drop across much of Hous­ton; death toll at 20

Truro Daily News - - WORLD -

In a glim­mer of hope for the hur­ri­cane’s vic­tims, Har­vey’s flood­wa­ters are be­gin­ning to drop across much of the Hous­ton area, of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day. But as the cri­sis eases, the storm could be­gin to give up its dead.

“We have good news,” said Jeff Lind­ner, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist with the Har­ris County Flood Con­trol District. “The wa­ter lev­els are go­ing down. And that’s for the first time in sev­eral days.”

The num­ber of con­firmed deaths rose to 20 when au­thor­i­ties re­ported that two men drowned on Mon­day. One of them drove around a bar­ri­cade and into stand­ing wa­ter, while the other tried to swim across a flooded road.

Au­thor­i­ties ex­pect the toll to rise as the wa­ters re­cede and they are able to take full stock of the death and de­struc­tion wrought by the cat­a­strophic storm.

Some neigh­bour­hoods were still in dan­ger of more flood­ing. Lin­der said a levee along Cy­press Creek in the north­ern part of the county could fail and swamp a sub­di­vi­sion where some res­i­dents ig­nored a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­der.

The wa­ter in two reser­voirs that pro­tect down­town Hous­ton from flood­ing was likely to crest Wed­nes­day at lev­els slightly be­low those that were fore­cast, of­fi­cials said.

Mean­while, the Texas community of Port Arthur found it­self in­creas­ingly iso­lated Wed­nes­day as Har­vey’s rains flooded most ma­jor roads out of the city and swamped a shel­ter for vic­tims flee­ing the storm that rav­aged the Hous­ton area.

The cri­sis deep­ened in the coastal city after Har­vey rolled ashore overnight for the sec­ond time in six days, this time hitting south­west­ern Louisiana, about 45 miles from Port Arthur.

Jef­fer­son County sher­iff’s Deputy Marcus McLel­lan said he

wasn’t sure where the 100 or so evac­uees at the civic cen­tre in Port Arthur would be sent. Most were perched on bleacher seats to stay dry, their be­long­ings left mostly on the floor un­der about a foot of wa­ter, he said.

“Peo­ple started com­ing to the shel­ter on Mon­day,” McLel­lan said.

“And now it’s just all the rain­fall that’s com­ing in, and there’s a canal by there also that’s over­flow­ing.”

In the Hous­ton area, mean­while, some sun­shine was fi­nally in the fore­cast after five straight days of rain that to­talled close to 52 inches, the heav­i­est trop­i­cal down­pour ever recorded in the con­ti­nen­tal United States.

The dead in­clude a for­mer foot­ball and track coach in sub­ur­ban Hous­ton and a woman who died after she and her young daugh­ter were swept into a rain-swollen drainage canal in Beau­mont. The child was res­cued cling­ing to her dead mother, au­thor­i­ties said.

Some 13,000 peo­ple have been

res­cued in the Hous­ton area, and more than 17,000 have sought refuge in Texas shel­ters. With the wa­ter still high in places and many hard-hit ar­eas still in­ac­ces­si­ble, those num­bers seemed cer­tain to in­crease.

Har­vey ini­tially came ashore as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane in Texas on Fri­day, then ex­e­cuted a Uturn and lin­gered off the coast as a trop­i­cal storm for days, in­un­dat­ing flood-prone Hous­ton, the na­tion’s fourth-largest city.

Early Wed­nes­day, Har­vey paid a re­turn visit, com­ing ashore near Cameron, Louisiana, and bring­ing with it 45 mph winds and a heavy dose of rain.

Hous­ton’s largest shel­ter housed 10,000 of the dis­placed twice its ini­tial in­tended ca­pac­ity - and two ad­di­tional mega-shel­ters opened Tues­day.

Louisiana’s gov­er­nor of­fered to take in Har­vey vic­tims from Texas, re­turn­ing a favour done by Hous­ton after Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005. And tel­e­van­ge­list Joel Os­teen opened his 16,000-seat

Hous­ton megachurch to vic­tims after he was blasted on so­cial me­dia.

In an ap­par­ent re­sponse to scat­tered re­ports of loot­ing, Hous­ton im­posed a mid­night-to-5 a.m. cur­few, with po­lice say­ing vi­o­la­tors would be ar­rested.

Hous­ton has asked the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency for more sup­plies, in­clud­ing cots and food, for an ad­di­tional 10,000 peo­ple, said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

In Port Arthur, Sher­iff Zena Stephens told KFDM-TV that au­thor­i­ties were strug­gling to res­cue res­i­dents from the flood­ing.

Mayor Der­rick Free­man posted on his Face­book page: “city is un­der­wa­ter right now but we are com­ing!” He also urged res­i­dents to get to higher ground and to avoid be­com­ing trapped in at­tics.

Har­vey is ex­pected to weaken as it slogs through Louisiana and makes it way north­ward, with Arkansas, Ten­nessee and Mis­souri on alert for flood­ing in the next cou­ple of days.

AP PHOTO

Judy Mel­lon, left, is helped by her daugh­ter, Beth Ken­drick, as she sorts through items dam­aged by flood­wa­ters from Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey yes­ter­day in Hous­ton.

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