Flood­wa­ters drop across much of Houston

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

stand­ing wa­ter, while the other tried to swim across a flooded road.

Au­thor­i­ties ex­pect the toll to rise as the wa­ters re­cede and they are able to take full stock of the death and de­struc­tion wrought by the hur­ri­cane.

Many thou­sands of homes in and around the na­tion’s fourth-largest city were still swamped and could stay that way for days or longer. And some Houston-area neigh­bor­hoods were still in dan­ger of more flood­ing from a levee breach. Of­fi­cials said 911 call cen­ters in the Houston area were still get­ting more than 1,000 calls an hour from peo­ple seek­ing help.

Nev­er­the­less, fore­cast­ers said the rain is pretty much over for the Houston area, and the wa­ter is al­ready back within its chan­nels in some places.

Also, the wa­ter in two reser­voirs that pro­tect down­town Houston from flood­ing was likely to crest Wed­nes­day at lev­els slightly be­low those that were fore­cast, of­fi­cials said.

As for Har­vey, it rolled ashore early Wed­nes­day for the sec­ond time in six days, hit­ting south­west­ern Louisiana close to the Texas state line as a trop­i­cal storm with winds of 45 mph.

But it was “spin­ning down” and was ex­pected to weaken into a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion some­time Wed­nes­day, Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter me­te­o­rol­o­gist Den­nis Felt­gen said. A trop­i­cal de­pres­sion has winds of 38 mph or less.

From there, the rem­nants of the hur­ri­cane are ex­pected to move from Louisiana into Mis­sis­sippi, Ten­nessee and Ken­tucky in the next few days, with flood­ing pos­si­ble in those states.

“Once we get this thing in­land dur­ing the day, it’s the end of the be­gin­ning,” Felt­gen said. “Texas is go­ing to get a chance to fi­nally dry out as this sys­tem pulls out.”

The re­prieve from the rain in Houston was wel­come.

Eugene Rideaux, a 42year-old me­chanic who showed up at Os­teen’s Lake­wood Church to sort do­na­tions for evac­uees, said he had not been able to work or do much since the storm hit, so he was ea­ger to get out of his dark house and help.

“It’s been so dark for days now, I’m just ready to see some light. Some sun­shine. I’m tired of the dark­ness,” Rideaux said. “But it’s a tough city, and we’re go­ing to make this into a pos­i­tive and come to­gether.”

The dead in­clude a for­mer foot­ball and track coach in sub­ur­ban Houston and a woman who died af­ter she and her young daugh­ter were swept into a rain-swollen drainage canal in Beau­mont. The child was res­cued cling­ing to her dead mother, au­thor­i­ties said.

Mean­while, the Texas com­mu­nity of Port Arthur found it­self in­creas­ingly iso­lated Wed­nes­day as Har­vey’s rains flooded most ma­jor roads out of the city and swamped a storm shel­ter. Mo­tiva En­ter­prises closed its Port Arthur re­fin­ery, the largest in the na­tion, be­cause of flood­ing.

When Har­vey paid its re­turn visit to land overnight, it hit near Cameron, Louisiana, about 45 miles from Port Arthur.

Jef­fer­son County sher­iff ’s Deputy Mar­cus McLel­lan said he wasn’t sure where the 100 or so evac­uees at the civic cen­ter in Port Arthur would be sent. Most were perched on bleacher seats to stay dry, their be­long­ings left mostly on the floor un­der about a foot (30 cen­time­ters) of wa­ter, he said.

Port Arthur Mayor Der­rick Free­man posted on his Face­book page: “city is un­der­wa­ter right now but we are com­ing!” He also urged res­i­dents to get to higher ground and to avoid be­com­ing trapped in at­tics.

In the Houston area, Har­vey’s five straight of rain that to­taled close to 52 inches, the heav­i­est trop­i­cal down­pour ever recorded in the con­ti­nen­tal United States.

Har­ris County Judge Ed Em­mett said 30,000 to 40,000 homes, per­haps more, may have been dam­aged.

“It could be more,” he told Houston’s KTRK-TV. “We just don’t know. A num­ber are ir­repara­ble. We’ve got some dif­fi­cult months and per­haps years ahead.”

Some 13,000 peo­ple have been res­cued in the Houston area, and more than 17,000 have sought refuge in Texas shel­ters. With the wa­ter still high in places and many hard-hit areas still in­ac­ces­si­ble, those num­bers seemed cer­tain to in­crease.

About 195,000 peo­ple have filed for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance, and about $35 mil­lion in di­rect aid has been dis­trib­uted — num­bers ex­pected to climb dra­mat­i­cally in com­ing days and weeks, the chief of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency said.

“This is go­ing to be an in­cred­i­bly large dis­as­ter,” Brock Long said in Wash­ing­ton. “We’re not go­ing to know the true cost for years to come . . . But it’s go­ing to be huge.”

Har­vey ini­tially came ashore as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane in Texas on Fri­day, then ex­e­cuted a U-turn and lin­gered off the coast as a trop­i­cal storm for days, in­un­dat­ing flood-prone Houston.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.