HAR­VEY’S TOLL RISES

HOUSTON Po­lice of­fi­cer is 15th Texas death re­lated to the storm. AUSTIN Mega-shel­ter at con­ven­tion cen­ter to house 2,500. TEXAS COAST In Cor­pus Christi, Trump vows sol­i­dar­ity with Texas.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ryan Au­tullo and W. Gard­ner Selby rautullo@statesman.com wgselby@statesman.com

A vet­eran Houston po­lice of­fi­cer who drowned while on duty is among those claimed by record-break­ing Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, which ex­perts Tues­day said might re­turn to Texas from the Gulf of Mex­ico, but isn’t ex­pected to strike the na­tion’s fourth-largest city again.

A search cul­mi­nated in of­fi­cers find­ing Sgt. Steve Perez’s body un­der a high­way over­pass Tues­day, Houston Po­lice Chief Art Acevedo said.

Speak­ing through tears, Acevedo con­firmed Perez, 60, a 34-year vet­eran of the depart­ment, had drowned. An au­topsy awaits.

His death is the 15th fa­tal­ity in Texas that can be tied to Har­vey, the once-Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane that in five days has de­stroyed pre-storm pro­jec­tions along with fam­i­lies, homes and peace of mind for mil­lions of Tex­ans. Acevedo said more than 3,500 peo­ple in Houston have been res­cued in the wake of tor­ren­tial rains and flood­ing, and that of­fi­cials are likely days away from be­ing able to launch a full re­cov­ery ef­fort. The Coast Guard re­ported res­cu­ing 113 pets.

Mean­while, Pres­i­dent Don­ald

Trump vis­ited Texas to show sup­port. Ac­com­pa­nied by first lady Me­la­nia Trump, the pres­i­dent stopped first in Cor­pus Christi be­fore ar­riv­ing in Austin af­ter 2 p.m. for a brief­ing at the Texas Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety’s Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter.

The de­struc­tion wrought by Har­vey, which has been down­graded to a trop­i­cal storm, is mea­sured in jar­ring num­bers.

John Nielsen-Gam­mon, Texas state cli­ma­tol­o­gist, told The Wash­ing­ton Post that a rain gauge in Mont Belvieu, about 40 miles east of Houston, had reg­is­tered 51.1 inches of rain through early Tues­day af­ter­noon.

That’s not only a Texas record, but a record for the 48 con­tigu­ous states, the paper re­ports, and ex­ceeds the pre­vi­ous high-wa­ter mark of 48 inches set dur­ing trop­i­cal cy­clone Amelia in Me­d­ina in 1978.

The new mark is un­of­fi­cial, pend­ing a re­view.

Me­te­o­rol­o­gist Jeff Lind­ner told the Houston Chron­i­cle that be­tween 20 and 30 per­cent of Har­ris County’s 1,777 square miles was un­derwa- ter as of Tues­day af­ter­noon. Tak­ing the lower end of that pro­jec­tion, 20 per­cent is the equiv­a­lent of 355 wa­ter­logged miles — big­ger than Austin.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said res­cuers were shift­ing fo­cus to King­wood, a com­mu­nity in north­east Houston that sits mostly in Har­ris County, but partly in Mont­gomery County.

With the storm swirling north from the Gulf, ex­perts warn Beau­mont and Lou- isiana to be on the look- out. Har­vey was ex­pected to make its sec­ond land­fall in Louisiana near the Texas bor­der Wed­nes­day, bring­ing 6 to 12 inches of rain to the north and east of Houston.

Houston of­fi­cials had planned to open two or three more mega-shel­ters to ac­com­mo­date peo­ple who con­tinue to ar­rive at the over­flow­ing Ge­orge R. Brown Con­ven­tion Cen­ter seek­ing refuge, Turner said.

The cen­ter al­ready held more than 9,000 peo­ple Tues­day, al­most twice the num­ber of­fi­cials orig­i­nally planned to house there, he added.

“We are not turning any­one away. But it does mean we need to ex­pand our ca­pa­bil­i­ties and our ca­pac­ity,” Turner said. “Re­lief is com­ing.”

More than 17,000 peo­ple have sought refuge in Texas shel­ters, and that num­ber seemed cer­tain to in­crease, the Amer­i­can Red Cross said.

The U.S. La­bor Depart­ment an­nounced ap­proval for an ini­tial $10 mil­lion to as­sist with cleanup and the re­cov­ery ef­fort and to help Tex­ans get back on their feet if they are un­able to work. Fund­ing comes through the Na­tional Dis­lo­cated Worker Grant.

The Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices de­clared a pub­lic health emer­gency in Texas and Louisiana.

Har­vey’s death toll is ex­pected to rise.

Har­ris County’s med­i­cal ex­am­iner iden­ti­fied an in­di­vid­ual pre­vi­ously tal- lied as a likely drown­ing vic­tim. Ac­cord­ing to an up­date posted by the Har­ris County In­sti­tute of Foren­sic Sci

ences, Alexan­der Kwok­sum Sung, 64, a res­i­dent of South Houston, drowned at 2:40 p.m. Sun­day.

In­sti­tute spokeswoman Tri­cia Bent­ley later said that through Tues­day, au­top­sies con­firmed five ad­di­tional deaths — in­clud­ing the po­lice sergeant — in con­nec­tion with the hur­ri­cane. Bent- ley said eight ad­di­tional in­di­vid­u­als, whose bod­ies were found Sun­day or later, awaited au­top­sies.

Galve­ston County has tal­lied six deaths re­lated to the storm, a local in­ves­ti­ga­tor told the Houston Chron­i­cle.

“There’s more deaths than that,” Chief In­ves­ti­ga­tor John

Florence with the Galve­ston County med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice was quoted as say­ing. “But we don’t know if they’re storm-re­lated.”

On Satur­day, the Chroni- cle said, an el­derly wo­man died in her Santa Fe home af­ter her oxy­gen tank failed when the elec­tric­ity went out. Crews re­cov­ered her body Sun­day.

Most of the other five deaths were Sun­day and Mon­day in Dick­in­son and League City, the paper said, with one man found dead Sun­day in a La Mar­que Wal­mart park­ing lot, though

it’s not clear how he died or if it was storm-re­lated.

The news­pa­per said it wasn’t clear how the other storm vic­tims died be­cause Florence couldn’t ac­cess his Texas City of­fice to see records.

Peo­ple living near a Hous- ton-area plant that uses am­mo­nia to make or­ganic per­ox­ides were evac­u­ated Tues­day. Arkema Inc., the com­pany that owns the plant in Crosby, had ear­lier ex­pressed con­cern that without a power source, the plant could warm to a dan­ger­ous level, touch­ing off an ex­plo­sion or fire.

In a sliver of good news, Port Aransas is now ac­ces­si­ble to any­one who drives the land route from Cor­pus Christi, the city says.

But ferry ser­vice from Aransas Pass is “closed to the pub­lic un­til fur­ther no­tice,” said Rickey Dai­ley, spokesman for the Texas Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s Cor­pus Christi district.

The beachside com­mu­nity suf­fered ex­ten­sive dam­age Fri­day night.

DAVID J. PHILLIP / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wa­ter from the Ad­dicks Reser­voir flows into neigh­bor­hoods in Houston on Tues­day as flood­ing from Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey con­tin­ues to rise. One gauge recorded 51.1 inches of rain, and be­tween 20 and 30 per­cent of Har­ris County is un­der­wa­ter.

PHO­TOS BY ROBERT GAU­THIER / LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

Refugees from Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey ar­rive Tues­day at the Ge­orge R. Brown Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Houston. More than 9,000 peo­ple are shel­ter­ing there, al­most twice the num­ber of evac­uees the city had planned to take in.

Houston po­lice Lt. Par­ris Pon­ton fist-bumps with Charles Davis, a Har­vey evac­uee, mo­ments af­ter the two en­gaged in a tense dis­agree­ment at the en­trance to the Brown Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Houston. “We are not turning any­one away,” the city’s mayor said.

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