HOUSTON — Officials released more water from Houston-area reservoirs overwhelmed by rains early Monday Aug. 28 in a move aimed at protecting the city’s downtown from devastating floods but that could still endanger thousands of homes, even as the U.S.’s fourth-largest city anticipated more rain.
The Associated Press reported that Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm, sent devastating floods pouring into Houston on Sunday. The rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground and overwhelmed rescuers who could not keep up with the constant calls for help.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long said during a news conference Monday that as many as 50 counties in Texas are affected by the flooding and that a tremendous amount of rainfall is in the cards for southwest Louisiana too. The rain and floods have been blamed in at least two deaths.
Even as the water rose Sunday, the National Weather Service issued an ominous forecast: Before the storm is gone, some parts of Houston and its suburbs could get as much as 50 inches (1.3 meters) of rain. That would be the highest amount ever recorded in Texas.
On Monday morning, emergency vehicles made up most of the traffic in an otherwise deserted downtown Houston — normally a bustling business area. Many traffic signals did not work and most businesses were closed.
Residents living near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs — that were designed to prevent flooding in downtown Houston — were warned Sunday that a controlled release from both reservoirs would cause additional street flooding that could spill into homes. Rising water levels and continuing rain was putting pressure on the dams that could fail without the release. Harris and Fort Bend county officials advised residents to pack their cars Sunday night and leave in the morning.
“When the sun comes up, get out,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District. “And you don’t have to go far, you just need to get out of this area.”
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