With countless Houstonians still awaiting rescue, Tropical Depression Harvey devoured another Texas city.
The unrelenting storm unleashed its wrath on a wide swath east of Houston, leaving thousands stranded in flooded homes and forcing the evacuation of a nursing facility and even an emergency shelter where residents had sought refuge.
“To those Americans who have lost loved ones, all of America is grieving with you and our hearts are joined with yours forever,” President Donald Trump said in Springfield, Missouri.
The storm left record-setting rain in Harris County — which saw 19 deaths — before unleashing 15 inches in the Beaumont area, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.
“While there may still be flooding, the good news is there shouldn’t be any rain in the region for the next several days,” said Meteorologist Taylor Ward.
Emergency workers and throngs of volunteers went door to door for a fifth day Wednesday, trying to rescue victims of the flood. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said authorities have received 60,000 to 70,000 calls for help.
“We just pray that the body count … won’t rise significantly.” Acevedo said.
The US Coast Guard is searching for two civilian rescuers who were swept away after their boat capsized Tuesday night, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Wednesday.
Three volunteers were trying to cross Cypress Creek when their boat crashed and capsized, sending all three under a bridge. One of the volunteers was found clinging to a tree.
About one-third of the Houston area is covered in water. And it’s unclear exactly how many people still need to be rescued, Texas Military Department spokesman Lt. Col. Travis Walters said.
Harvey’s devastating impact by the numbers
For the first time since the weekend, authorities said, the flooding in Houston is slowly receding in some areas.
The Houston Astros announced they will play a doubleheader at home on Saturday against the New York Mets. The team played the Texas Rangers in St. Petersburg, Florida, earlier this week because of the hurricane.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the home game will provide “a much needed boost for our city” and offer residents “some aspect of normal life.”
But dangerous flooding will continue from Houston all the way into southwestern Louisiana for the rest of the week, the National Weather Service said.
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Controversy has surrounded the placement of houses near Houston’s Barker and Addicks reservoirs, especially since floodwater overflowed the latter.
“They allowed them to build homes inside the reservoir. And these homes are flooded — 2,500 homes are flooded, some of them up to 5 feet deep,” meteorologist Chad Myers said Wednesday. “They built homes inside a lake.”
And those homes “will be inundated for several weeks,” said Jeff Lindner with Harris County Flood Control.
“The closest comparison that I can draw to those homes … is Hurricane Katrina,” Lindner said.
“When water sits in a house for several weeks, the house begins to degrade.”
Lindner said those residents will be able to return after several weeks, but “we are not sure what the condition of those homes are going to be.”
He also said it’s unclear whether rebuilding homes in the same area will be allowed.
Louisiana was largely spared from Harvey’s wrath on Wednesday.
“While things are still serious and there is a long way to go, we … have fared much better than we’d feared might be the case, but our neighbors are still taking it on the chin,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “In Texas, we’re going to do everything we can do to be good neighbors to them.”
Edwards requested a federal disaster declaration be extended to seven additional Louisiana parishes.
Harvey is still threatening to dump an additional 3 to 6 inches of rain from northern Louisiana into western Kentucky, forecasters said. It weakened over land and fizzled to a tropical depression Wednesday night, with winds of 35 mph.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said volunteers helped New Orleans recover after Katrina and they will do the same for Texas residents affected by Harvey.
New Orleans officials announced a fundraiser to help the residents of Houston and other flooded Texas cities recover from Harvey.
“No city was more welcoming for the citizens of New Orleans than the people of Houston,” Landrieu said. “And our heart breaks for them as they go through their trying to times.”
New Orleans draws on lessons of Katrina to help Houston