Ru­inous floods

Texas wa­ter lev­els rise, caus­ing panic and chaos

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - HOUS­TON (AP)

— Flood­wa­ters reached the rooflines of sin­gle-story homes Mon­day and peo­ple could be heard plead­ing for help from in­side as Har­vey poured rain on the Hous­ton area for a fourth con­sec­u­tive day af­ter a chaotic week­end of ris­ing wa­ter and res­cues.

The na­tion’s fourth-largest city re­mained mostly par­a­lyzed by one of the largest down­pours in U.S. his­tory. And there was no re­lief in sight from the storm that spun into Texas as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane, then parked over the Gulf Coast. With nearly 2 more feet (61 cen­time­ters) of rain ex­pected on top of the 30-plus inches (76 cen­time­ters) in some places, au­thor­i­ties wor­ried that the worst might be yet to come.

Har­vey has been blamed for at least three con­firmed deaths, in­clud­ing a woman killed Mon­day in the town of Porter, north­east of Hous­ton, when a large oak tree dis­lodged by heavy rains top­pled onto her trailer home.

A Hous­ton woman also said she pre­sumes six mem­bers of a fam­ily, in­clud­ing four of her grand­chil­dren, died af­ter their van sank into Greens Bayou in East Hous­ton.

Vir­ginia Sal­divar told the As­so­ci­ated Press her brother-in-law was driv­ing the van Sun­day when a strong cur­rent took the ve­hi­cle over a bridge and into the bayou. The driver was able to get out and urged the chil­dren to es­cape through the back door, Sal­divar said, but they could not.

“I’m just hop­ing we find the bod­ies,” Sal­divar said.

Hous­ton emer­gency of­fi­cials couldn’t con­firm the deaths. But Po­lice Chief Art Acevedo said he’s “re­ally wor­ried about how many bod­ies we’re go­ing to find” amid the dis­as­ter, which un­folded on an epic scale in one of Amer­ica’s most sprawl­ing metropoli­tan cen­ters.

The Hous­ton metro area cov­ers about 10,000 square miles, an area slightly big­ger than New Jer­sey. It’s criss­crossed by about 1,700 miles of chan­nels, creeks and bay­ous that drain into the Gulf of Mex­ico, about 50 miles to the south­east from down­town.

The storm is gen­er­at­ing an amount of rain that would nor­mally be seen only once in more than 1,000 years, said Ed­mond Russo, a deputy district en­gi­neer for the Army Corps of En­gi­neers, which was con­cerned that flood­wa­ter would spill around a pair of 70-year-old reservoir dams that pro­tect down­town Hous­ton.

The flood­ing was so wide­spread that the lev­els of city wa­ter­ways have equaled or sur­passed those of Trop­i­cal Storm Allison from 2001, and no ma­jor high­way has been spared some over­flow.

The city’s nor­mally bustling busi­ness district was vir­tu­ally de­serted Mon­day, with emer­gency ve­hi­cles mak­ing up most of the traf­fic.

Res­cuers con­tin­ued pluck­ing peo­ple from the flood­wa­ters. Mayor Sylvester Turner put the num­ber by po­lice at more than 3,000. The Coast Guard said it also had res­cued more than 3,000 by boat and air and was tak­ing more than 1,000 calls her hour.

Chris Thorn was among the many vol­un­teers still help­ing with the mass evac­u­a­tion that be­gan Sun­day. He drove with a buddy from the Dal­las area with their flat-bot­tom hunt­ing boat to pull strangers out of the wa­ter.

“I couldn’t sit at home and watch it on TV and do noth­ing since I have a boat and all the tools to help,” he said.

They got to Spring, Texas, where Cy­press Creek had breached In­ter­state 45 and went to work, help­ing peo­ple out of a gated com­mu­nity near the creek.

“It’s never flooded here,” Lane Cross said from the front of Thorn’s boat, hold­ing his brown dog, Max. “I don’t even have flood in­sur­ance.”

A manda­tory evac­u­a­tion was or­dered for the low-ly­ing Hous­ton sub­urb of Dick­in­son, home to 20,000. Po­lice cited the city’s frag­ile in­fras­truc­ture in the floods, lim­ited work­ing util­i­ties and con­cern about the weather fore­cast.

In Hous­ton, ques­tions con­tin­ued to swirl about why the mayor did not is­sue a sim­i­lar evac­u­a­tion or­der.

Turner has re­peat­edly de­fended the de­ci­sion and did so again Mon­day, in­sist­ing that a mass evac­u­a­tion of mil­lions of peo­ple by car was a greater risk than en­dur­ing the storm.

Reuters-Yon­hap

Res­i­dents wade through flood wa­ters from Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey in Beau­mont Place, Hous­ton, Texas, Mon­day.

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