Rain ceases, but mis­ery re­mains

Wa­ters re­cede in Houston; Port Arthur still sub­merged

Chicago Sun-Times - - USA TODAY - Claire Tay­lor and John Ba­con

Nearly all wa­ter­ways HOUSTON in and around the city crested, and flood­wa­ters slowly re­ceded, but the re­gion faced an enor­mous task to emerge from the devastation of Har­vey, which was down­graded Wed­nes­day night by the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter from a trop­i­cal storm to a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion.

The storm made a sec­ond land­fall, slam­ming coastal Louisiana not far from the Texas bor­der. Although the rain stopped in Houston, the East Texas city of Port Arthur was hit so hard that a shel­ter was flooded and had to be evac­u­ated.

“Our whole city is un­der­wa­ter right now,” Port Arthur Mayor Der­rick Free­man, whose home was swamped by 3 feet of wa­ter, said in a Face­book post.

The city pleaded for more boats to help res­cue peo­ple.

The hard­ships from Har­vey are far from over. The storm, which hit the Texas coast Fri­day as a strong hur­ri­cane, was fore­cast to drop up to 10 inches of rain on Louisiana be­fore mov­ing on to Arkansas, Ten­nessee and parts of Missouri. Fore­cast­ers warned of pos­si­ble tor­na­does across a wide swath of the South­east as Har­vey rolled in­land.

“We are work­ing with the state of Louisiana as the storm moves through their state,” Elaine Duke, act­ing sec­re­tary of Home­land Se­cu­rity, said in Wash­ing­ton.

She warned that de­spite re­ced­ing wa­ters in Houston, “cat­a­strophic flood­ing is likely to per­sist days af­ter the rain stops.”

The con­firmed death toll was in dou­ble dig­its, in­clud­ing six fam­ily mem­bers whose bod­ies were found Wed­nes­day in a van that dis­ap­peared in high wa­ter three days ear­lier.

“We are sad to con­firm we have re­trieved six vic­tims from a van that was sub­merged in Greens Bayou,” the Har­ris County Sher­iff’s Of­fice tweeted.

Au­thor­i­ties were con­cerned that more bod­ies would be found as the wa­ter re­cedes.

Ac­cuWeather es­ti­mated Har­vey’s cost at $ 160 bil­lion, which would make it the costli­est nat­u­ral dis­as­ter in U. S. his­tory. Accu-

Weather Pres­i­dent Joel My­ers called Har­vey a “1,000- year storm” and said parts of Houston will be un­in­hab­it­able for weeks or months.

Some areas near Houston re­ceived more than 50 inches of rain, more than the level usu­ally seen in a year. The storm was not likely to bring such dev­as­tat­ing flood­ing to Louisiana and other states, but flash flood­ing could oc­cur, Ac­cuWeather re­ported.

Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Brock Long said more than 30,000 peo­ple took refuge in more than 200 shel­ters, large and small, in Texas. About 1,800 evac­uees were moved to ho­tels and other longert­erm hous­ing op­tions, he said.

In Houston, au­thor­i­ties opened two more mega- shel­ters — the arena that houses the NBA’s Rock­ets and the sta­dium home of the NFL’s Tex­ans — af- ter the con­ven­tion cen­ter was packed with al­most 9,000 evac­uees.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner im­posed a mid­night- to- 5 a. m. cur­few aimed at en­sur­ing that va­cant homes and streets would be safe. Turner and Po­lice Chief Art Acevedo warned that loot­ers would be pros­e­cuted to the fullest ex­tent of the law.

“Peo­ple were very co­op­er­a­tive last night,” Turner said Wed­nes­day. “The cur­few will re­main in ef­fect un­til we get past the sit­u­a­tion we are in.”

Tif­fany Duron wasn’t con­vinced. The East Houston res­i­dent packed her things and was ea­ger to leave the con­ven­tion cen­ter Wed­nes­day.

“They were al­ready break­ing into my neigh­bors’ ” homes, she said.

NICK OZA, THE ARIZONA REPUB­LIC, VIA THE USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

Pa­tients wait for res­cue from a health care fa­cil­ity in Port Arthur, Texas, that was flooded af­ter Hur­ri­cane Har­vey. “Our whole city is un­der­wa­ter,” Mayor Der­rick Free­man said.

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