Rays of hope in the dark­ness

Dry spell fore­cast, but city is sop­ping

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Doyle Rice Con­tribut­ing: WFAA-TV, Dal­las

Wa­ters start a slow pull­back in Houston; paramedics bat­tle ex­haus­tion

The news about Houston’s wa­ter­ways is mostly good: The wa­ter lev­els of many of the re­gion’s rain-swollen bay­ous, rivers and creeks have crested and were drop­ping as of Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon af­ter cat­a­strophic flood­ing from Har­vey.

Most of the area wa­ter­ways should drop be­low flood stage by the week­end, said Gre­gory Wel- lers, a hy­drol­o­gist at the West Gulf River Fore­cast Cen­ter in Fort Worth.

“Houston is catch­ing a break,” Wellers said. The fore­cast was for pro­longed dry weather.

A quick re­view of the Houston area’s flood gauges Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon found that most were drop­ping.

How­ever, the city’s main wa­ter­way, the Buf­falo Bayou, which stretches through the down­town area, could stay at flood stage for weeks, per­haps longer, Wellers said. Two of the city’s reser­voirs — the Ad­dicks and Barker Reser­voirs — are full and will slowly have to be drained into the Buf­falo Bayou over the next sev­eral weeks, he said.

“Higher-than-nor­mal con­trolled re­leases will con­tinue from the reser­voirs into Buf­falo Bayou as the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers works to lower wa­ter lev­els in both flood con­trol fa­cil­i­ties in west Har­ris County,” the Har­ris County Flood Con­trol District said in a state­ment. Reser­voir re­leases are a com­mon post-storm step, the district said.

When it comes to flood­ing in Houston, though, Hur­ri­cane Har­vey was unique: “You can’t com­pare it to any other storm,” Waller said of Har­vey’s floods.

“The re­cov­ery process though, once that starts, we’re talk­ing years,” he said.

MARK RAL­STON, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Traf­fic goes around flood­ing on the I-10 free­way Wed­nes­day in Houston. The wa­ters were re­ced­ing, but Buf­falo Bayou could stay at flood stage for weeks.

WIN MCNAMEE, GETTY IMAGES

Res­i­dents re­turn to their homes in Houston as flood­wa­ters be­gin to re­treat. The city will get a chance to dry out a lit­tle.

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