Tropical Storm Harvey made a second landfall in Louisiana early Wednesday morning, but the emergency was far from over in Texas, where beleaguered residents continued to struggle against rising floodwaters caused by six days of rainfall.
Officials are striving to comfort a region in distress, counseling patience and resilience. In Houston, residents woke up after a citywide curfew to face another difficult day, with shelters filled with people still seeking information about their families and friends, and the state of their homes and their city.
The mayors of cities in southeastern Texas, including Beaumont and Port Arthur, said that rescue workers were battling new emergencies as water poured into houses and shelters. “Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!” Port Arthur’s mayor, Derrick Freeman, said in a Facebook message early Wednesday, as desperate residents sent out calls for help on social media.
Here is the latest:
• The storm made its second landfall at 4 a.m. Wednesday just west of Cameron, La., near the Texas border, the National Hurricane Center said. Harvey was expected to move northeast, gradually weakening and becoming a tropical depression by Wednesday night.
• Local officials have reported at least 30 deaths that were related or suspected to be related to the storm.
• Parts of the Houston area set a record for rainfall from a single storm anywhere in the continental United States, with a top reading on Wednesday morning of 51.88 inches since the storm began.
• Follow Times correspondents covering the storm on Twitter: Manny Fernandez, Alan Blinder, Julie Turkewitz, Jack Healy, Dave Philipps, Annie Correal, Rick Rojas, Monica Davey, Richard Fausset, Richard Pérez-Peña and Audra Burch. A collection of their tweets is here.
Up to 30 percent of Harris County is flooded.
We spoke with Jeffrey Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District, to put the rain totals in perspective.
Of the 1,800 square miles of land that make up Harris County, which includes Houston, 25 to 30 percent “has been inundated,” Mr. Lindner said. Over four days, more than a trillion gallons of rain fell in the county — enough to “run Niagara Falls for 15 days,” he said, or fill the Houston Astrodome 3,200 times.
On average, the depth of the floodwaters countywide was 33 inches. But now that the rain is moving into Louisiana, Mr. Lindner said the flooding — reservoirs excepted — should drain by Friday or Saturday.
Houston spent the night under curfew.
A citywide curfew has been imposed by the city’s mayor, from midnight to 5 a.m., until further notice.
The Houston Police Department requested the curfew partly in response to reports of “small-scale looting” and other crimes, Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference Tuesday evening.
He added that the curfew would help search and rescue teams get around without interference.
Sylvester Turner, Houston’s mayor, warned that people had been impersonating law enforcement officers in some neighborhoods, going door to door and telling residents falsely that there was a mandatory evacuation order in place.
Reservoirs are above capacity in Houston.
Water began flowing over an emergency spillway at a major Houston flood-control reservoir on Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers said, adding to flooding in the area about 15 miles west of downtown.
So far the overflow at the Addicks Reservoir dam is minor, about 100 cubic feet per second, Edmond Russo Jr., deputy district engineer for the Army Corps’ Galveston district, said at a news conference. But it should rise to about 4,500 cubic feet per second — about 120 million gallons per hour — by Thursday, he said, as the reservoir levels peak.
The rate should decline to current levels two days after that, he said. But the large flow could bring up to two feet of water to the streets east of the reservoir. The water will eventually flow into Buffalo Bayou, which passes through downtown.
Dr. Russo said that dam safety operators were monitoring the structure and that it was not in danger.
Levels at a second reservoir nearby, Barker, are increasing as well and its two spillways are expected to overflow starting Saturday, he said.
Water in the two reservoirs, which are normally dry, has risen quickly since Harvey first began inundating the area. Efforts to reduce the levels by controlled releases through gates in both dams have not been sufficient.
In addition to the flooding over the spillway, both reservoirs have been spreading into nearby subdivisions as the water has risen. A spokesman for the Harris County Flood Control District said that about 2,500 homes near Addicks Reservoir, and 670 near Barker, have flooded already.
The city also has to worry about having enough potable water. Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant, one of three plants that supply water to the city, is flooded. While the system is still working, even with much of its equipment underwater, city officials are worried about their ability to keep it running.
The president offered encouragement in a visit.
Mr. Trump arrived in Corpus Christi for a briefing on relief efforts, then headed to Austin for a tour of an emergency operations center and a briefing with state leaders.
“It’s a real team, and we want to do it better than ever before,” Mr. Trump said of the response effort during a meeting with officials from local, state and federal agencies in a Corpus Christi firehouse. “We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it.” Read more about his visit here.
Source: New York Times