Har­vey rains ‘worse than the worst-case sce­nario’ in Texas

20 inches fall in some ar­eas, with storm ex­pected to linger for days

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint -

USA TO­DAY Net­work HOUS­TON He­li­copters plucked des­per­ate flood vic­tims from rooftops Sunday while boats and trucks swept hun­dreds more res­i­dents to safety as the rem­nants of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey fu­eled his­toric rains and dev­as­tat­ing flood­ing across a wide swath of East Texas.

The un­re­lent­ing rain was fore­cast well into the week, and the Texas Gulf Coast braced for sev­eral days of cat­a­strophic flood­ing.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said some ar­eas could be slammed with an “un­prece­dented” 50 inches of rain by week’s end.

“This event is un­prece­dented & all im­pacts are un­known & beyond any­thing ex­pe­ri­enced,” the weather ser­vice tweeted. “Fol­low orders from of­fi­cials to en­sure safety.”

Gov. Greg Ab­bott ac­ti­vated 3,000 Na­tional Guard troops in ad­di­tion to hun­dreds of other state emer­gency per­son­nel aiding lo­cal first re­spon­ders.

He said 600 boats were as­sist­ing res­cue ef­forts, and the Coast Guard said at least 16 he­li­copters were tapped for air res­cues.

Con­voys of buses and a mo­bile hospi­tal unit were on the way to Hous­ton and the Gulf Coast, as were truck­loads of food and vol­un­teers, Ab­bott said.

“They now know the cav­alry is com­ing,” the gov­er­nor said. “Our top pri­or­ity is to pro­tect hu­man life.”

Flood­ing was over­whelm­ing the Hous­ton metropoli­tan area. Scenes of fam­i­lies be­ing shut­tled to safety played out in scores of neigh­bor­hoods. By early Sunday, the Coast Guard said it al­ready had res­cued more than 100 peo­ple from rooftops.

“The flood­ing in and around Amer­ica’s 4th most-pop­u­lous city is go­ing to write world head­lines and set records for gen­er­a­tions,” tweeted me­te­o­rol­o­gist Roger Ed­wards of the weather ser­vice’s Storm Pre­dic­tion Cen­ter.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will head to the state Tues­day, the White House said Sunday af­ter­noon.

The weather ser­vice said parts of Har­ris County had been hit with more than 20 inches of rain in 24 hours. Jeff Lind­ner, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist with the county Flood Con­trol Dis­trict, called the rain­fall to­tals “stag­ger­ing.”

This is “worse than the worst-case sce­nario for Hous­ton,” tweeted WeatherBell me­te­o­rol­o­gist Ryan Maue.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said emer­gency of­fi­cials had been over­whelmed with more than 2,000 calls for res­cue, and he urged res­i­dents not to call un­less their sit­u­a­tion was life-threat­en­ing.

Turner con­firmed one death in Hous­ton, say­ing a woman drowned try­ing to flee her car in high wa­ter. Another death was re­ported in a house fire in coastal Aransas County.

Turner de­fended his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion not to call for evac­u­a­tions ahead of the storm, say­ing it was too dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine which ar­eas of the sprawl­ing city of 2.3 mil­lion peo­ple were likely to take the worst hit.

The en­tire city has seen at least some flood­ing, he said.

“You give an or­der to evac­u­ate, you are cre­at­ing a night­mare,” he said.

Neigh­bors use their per­sonal boats to res­cue Jane Rhodes on Sunday in Friendswood, Texas. Fore­cast­ers were warn­ing that the rem­nants of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey could cause even more cat­a­strophic flood­ing in the com­ing days.

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