Home > Weather > Death toll reportedly reaches 5 as Harvey spawns massive flooding in Houston area

Death toll reportedly reaches 5 as Harvey spawns massive flooding in Houston area

Here’s what you need to know about the storm, damage, forecasts

City officials urged people to call 911 only if they are in “imminent danger” as flood water in the Houston area continued to rise.

Tropical Storm Harvey hovered over Houston early Sunday and dumped 20 to 30 inches of rain on already saturated streets, killing at least five people and prompting evacuations of apartment complexes and dramatic rescues, according to the National Weather Service.

“It’s catastrophic, unprecedented, epic — whatever adjective you want to use,” said Patrick Blood, a NWS meteorologist. “It’s pretty horrible right now.”

Across the region, rising waters pinned some into their homes or on rooftops, as low-lying areas turned into massive lakes and streams. Freeways in some parts were so deluged, water was lapping at overhead freeway signs.

Police were using transit buses to evacuate those unable to get to shelters on their own.

NOAA radar shows Hurricane Harvey moving over the coast. A hurricane warning is in effect for the counties shaded in red on the map.

http://google.org/crisismap/a/gmail.com/ChronCrisisMap?hl=en&llbox=33.4%2C23.01%2C-84.31%2C-105.4&t=TERRAIN&layers=8%3A100%2C2%2C3%2C18%2C17%2Clayer1%2C1&embedded=trueCreated by Data Journalist Rachael Gleason

Here is the latest on forecasts, damage, evacuations, closures and more as the storm continues to churn in South Texas.

FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS – 6:10 a.m.

The entire Texas Gulf coast is under a “catastrophic” flash flood emergency until 10:45 a.m.

The 12 counties under a flash flood emergency are the counties of Harris, eastern Wharton, Austin, southeastern Grimes, southeastern Washington, Galveston, southwestern Montgomery, Fort Bend, northern Brazoria, Waller and central Matagorda.

Rainfall totals for the past 12 hours topped 20 inches. And the forecast for the next few days remains dire, with computer models showing continued rounds of thunderstorms spawned by Harvey, which has been downgraded from a hurricane to tropical storm. Blood said the Houston area can expect at least an additional 15 to 25 inches over the next few days.

“I know for a fact this is the worst flood Houston has ever experienced,” Blood said. “Worse than (tropical storm) Allison. It’s so widespread.”

STORM-RELATED DEATHS – 5:01 a.m.

Five people have died in the Houston area in unconfirmed flood-related deaths, according to the National Weather Service.

The actual toll from Harvey remains unclear as rescue workers are still trying to reach vehicles and people stranded across the region.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted at 2:41 a.m. about an unconfirmed report that a female and child were inside a submerged vehicle along Interstate 10 near Lathrop.

A woman who allegedly tried to exit her flooded car near the Buffalo Bayou became the city’s first fatality Saturday night, authorities said.

RESCUES

Emergency workers are overwhelmed with calls for water rescues, having responded to “hundreds” as of early Sunday. Houston police officials also evacuated two apartment complexes in Greenspoint, rescuing more than 50 children from rising flood waters overnight.

“It breaks your heart,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said via a livestream on Twitter, as he stood in waist-high water in north Houston. “But, it’s Texas, we’ll get through it.”

Houston TranStar listed 181 high-water locations on the roads, which were lined with stalled and stranded motorists. Hobby Airport closed because of flooding. Metropolitan Transit Authority suspended all service. Harris County Toll Road Authority ceased tolling, so those forced to avoid high water could use the tollways.

Dozens of exits were closed along freeways and tollways, cutting off many neighborhoods, which were dealing with their own isolated, rising waters.

State roads will not reopen until waters recede and any debris can be cleared.

“We have crews ready to head out to do what they can,” said Danny Perez, spokesman for TxDOT in Houston, adding “they will do so when it is safe.”

As of 7 a.m., CenterPoint said more than 65,000 people in their Houston coverage area were without power, and number that was steadily rising.

In Harris County, the heaviest rainfalls over the past 12 hours were around Webster, where the county flood control gauge on the Galveston County line registered 19.3 inches since 5:30 p.m.

Harris County Sheriff’s were responding to numerous rescue requests in the area, stressing people should only use 911 in dire emergencies, as dispatchers were struggling to keep up with the calls.
“Difficult to get to everyone right away,” Gonzalez tweeted. “Hang tight.”

Panic set in Saturday night as entire neighborhoods were swallowed by feet of rain, forcing some residents to flee to their attics, especially along Interstate 45 between downtown and Clear Lake, including parts of Pasadena, said Jeff Lindner with the Harris County Flood Control District.

About 119 sections of waterways in Harris County had spilled over their banks, according to the Harris County Flood Warning System. One of the rain bands dumped between 5 and 6 inches of rain on parts of the Houston metro area late Saturday, and a second still working its way across the area could bring 6 additional inches.

A third band of torrential rain is moving its way up from along Highway 59 from El Campo and could bring another 3 to 5 inches of rain on top of the 15 inches some areas received.

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