Rain Letting Up In Houston, But 'Devastating' Flooding Will Continue Later This Week | KERA News

Rain Letting Up In Houston, But 'Devastating' Flooding Will Continue Later This Week

Aug 28, 2017
Originally published on August 28, 2017 7:08 pm

Updated at 5:07 p.m.

As historic flooding continues in Houston, President Trump said federal money for areas affected by Tropical Storm Harvey would arrive quickly.

"You're going to have what you need and it's going to go fast," he said at a joint news conference Monday afternoon with the president of Finland.

"We're one American family," said Trump, who is scheduled to visit Corpus Christi on Tuesday. This is the first major natural disaster of his administration. The president approved a disaster declaration for Texas before Harvey came ashore.

Authorities say a woman was killed in the Houston area Monday after a tree fell onto her trailer home, The Associated Press reports. Two other deaths have been attributed to the storm – one in Harris County and another in Rockport, where the storm hit as a Category 4 hurricane Friday night.

In an interview with the AP, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said he could not confirm reports that a family had died when their van was swept away by floodwaters, but that he's "really worried about how many bodies we're going to find."

Some areas of Houston have seen as much as 30 inches in the past 24 hours. An additional 15 to 20 inches is forecast in the next few days, according to the National Weather Service. The NWS predicts Houston will likely see the worst flooding tomorrow and Wednesday. 

FEMA estimates as many as 30,000 people in inundated neighborhoods will likely need shelter, with as many as 450,000 estimated to request aid.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the state has asked the city to accommodate up to 7,000 evacuees. He said city staff are working to determine how to make that happen.

“We in Austin are in the process of figuring out how many we can take and where we would house the company when they come to join us,” he said at a press conference at Austin Independent School District's Delco Center, where about 200 evacuees have taken shelter.

The Austin City Council announced it would hold an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss the city's response to Harvey. 

At a press conference earlier in Corpus Christi with Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn, FEMA Director Brock Long said that it could take years for Houston to return to normalcy.

"This is going to be a very long event," Long said. "You’re going to get frustrated. You’re going to be tired. Your routine is going to be disrupted for weeks. We are striving for a new normal here."

The agency has opened up the application process for assistance for those within the 18-county federal disaster declaration and the agency has begun delivering to supplies, where Harvey first made landfall. 

Abbott has listed 65 counties on the state’s disaster declaration. He announced this morning that the entire state National Guard will be mobilized to assist in flood relief and search-and-rescue efforts in Houston. 

In the last 24 hours, the Houston Fire Department has responded to 5,500 calls. Four thousand of those were water-related, according to Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña. The department says it has rescued 290 people since midnight. Police Chief Acevedo says police have handled 56,000 calls since Friday and rescued 2,000 Houstonians. Of those calls, 185 have been deemed critical rescue requests and are still pending, he said. 

The Army Corps of Engineers began releasing water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs overnight along the Buffalo Bayou and the Houston Ship Channel, according to KHOU. The Corps says the release will mitigate flooding in downtown Houston. Water in the reservoirs has risen at a rate of six inches an hour. 

Harris County Emergency Management has issued a non-mandatory evacuation for those living along the bayou. The Army Corps of Engineers says it expects water to remain in those areas for anywhere from one to three months after floodwaters recede.

The Houston Police Department is urging those whose homes are flooded to stay put and stay off the road. There are more than 350 road closures due to high water throughout the city, according to the Houston transit authority.

The U.S. Coast Guard is advising those affected by floods not to post on social media for emergency assistance. Over the weekend, 911 operators were overwhelmed by more than 75,000 calls. Officials are urging those seeking assistance to stay on the line if a call is not immediately answered.

The National Weather Service says Southeast Texas can expect "devastating flooding" as Tropical Storm Harvey lingers near Matagorda Bay before bouncing out to the Gulf of Mexico, where meteorologists expect it to gain strength in the warm Gulf waters.

The Houston area is expected to get as much as five inches of rain today, a relative lull compared to days prior, but, as the Houston Chronicle notes, flooding in Houston will reach its peak on Wednesday and Thursday. 

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