Harvey Live Updates: Storm Barrels Into Texas and Louisiana After Second Landfall – New York Times
Tropical Storm Harvey made a second landfall in Louisiana early Wednesday morning, but the danger was far from over in southeastern Texas, with cities there battling new emergencies as water poured into houses and shelters in Beaumont and Port Arthur.
“Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!” Port Arthur’s mayor, Derrick Freeman, said in a Facebook message overnight, as desperate residents sent out calls for help on social media.
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. Officials are counseling patience and resilience there, as beleaguered residents continued to struggle against rising floodwaters caused by six days of rainfall.
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.
• There are more than 30,000 people in 230 shelters across Texas, said Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on Wednesday, but they cautioned that number would likely change dramatically as more people arrived. About 1,800 people have been transferred from shelters to local motels and hotels.
• 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.
Port Arthur and Beaumont in Texas were hit hard overnight.
Those cities and other places in Jefferson County, Tex., east of Houston, were desperate for help Wednesday morning after heavy rain there overnight caused floodwaters to rise precipitously.
Local news reportsfrom Port Arthur showed that shelters and homes were flooded and residents and reporters said that there were not enough people answering emergency calls. Calls for help from residents surged on social media.
“Our heart is breaking for our community,” said a Facebook post from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Meagan Johnson, a resident of Orange, said parts of that city that she does not remember ever flooding were now overflowing. Her home did not have water in it, but the water had blocked in her street, and she was staying in her house without power. Her husband was out helping with rescues, and her father, an electrician for the city of Beaumont, was stuck there at work, making sure the city’s water pumps were working.
“I can’t even wrap my mind around how much rain this storm brought,” Ms. Johnson said in a telephone interview. “It’s not comparable. I’ve never seen this much rain in my entire life.”
Lousiania officials report minimal damage so far.
“I guess we’re really fortunate,” said Mike Steele, the spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
There were around two dozen rescues in southwest Louisiana overnight, Mr. Steele said, and around 200 people staying in shelters. Some of those in the shelter in Lake Charles were evacuees from Texas, which overnight took a punishing rainfall that seemed to almost taper off right at the Louisiana state line.
“It’s incredible because it looks like a lot of the severe major problems kind of stopped right around Orange, Tex.,” he said, referring to a town on the state line.
While concerns linger over flooding in southwestern Louisiana, the attention will be turning over the day to rainfall in central parts of the state, as Harvey travels northward, and in New Orleans, where the city’s drainage pumps have been plagued by problems.
Up to 30 percent of Harris County in Texas is flooded.
We spoke with Jeffrey Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District, on Tuesday 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.
A man goes back into the water to search for his dog.
Juan Machado, 37, an auto mechanic, hiked a child’s flotation ring up around his chest and entered the dark water on Tuesday.
He’d come with his wife and her cousins to East Houston, an industrial part of the city filled with mechanic shops and dumpsites, as well as the homes of many working-class immigrants. “We’re here for his dog,” his wife, Marisela Arevalo, 25, said.
They were among a crowd of people that formed by a flooded stretch of highway. Some of them were residents who had come to see if they could reach flooded homes to recover a few belongings from high-up places. The place reeked of a gasoline, and a crossing train alarm refused to cease, clanging for hours.
Ms. Arevalo said their house had been flooded up to their knees, and they had to leave without their dog, Camilo. “He left him over there,” she said, pointing to Mr. Machado’s mechanic shop, “on top of a trailer.”
Mr. Machado trudged through the water, and nearly disappeared at the horizon. An hour later, he returned, shivering, his lips blue, to his waiting family. “The current was too strong,” he said, head bowed. He couldn’t reach the shop. Camilo, it seemed, would not be rescued.
Some homes were flooded, but the risk is declining at two Houston reservoirs.
The Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday morning that efforts to slow the rise of water levels at two large flood-control reservoirs west of downtown were succeeding, reducing the risk of additional flooding.
Edmond Russo Jr. of the Galveston District said a decision to increase controlled flows through dam gates at the reservoirs, Addicks and Barker, to a total of about 13,000 cubic feet per second had slowed the rise of the water, and that both reservoirs were expected to peak soon at levels that are slightly below previous estimates.
He said only a small amount of water was now flowing over a spillway at the north end of Addicks dam, and the volume was not expected to increase. No similar uncontrolled releases are expected at Barker.
Still, a spokesman for the Harris County Flood Control District said that about 4,000 homes, mostly west of the reservoirs, have been flooded as the rising reservoirs have encroached on private land. Water is as much as six feet deep in some subdivisions, and some homes will likely remain inundated for weeks, said Mr. Lindler, the flood control district meteorologist and spokesman.
The controlled releases through the gates are draining into Buffalo Bayou, causing a local increase of one to three feet in the waterway. But farther east, he said, levels of the bayou — a source of much flooding downtown — are declining, he said.
Separately, Mr. Lindner said that authorities were maintaining a mandatory evacuation order for part of a subdivision along Cypress Creek, north of downtown. Seepage was noticed near a levee protecting the subdivision, Inverness Forest, and crews were trying to determine the cause. Seepage can be a sign of imminent levee failure.
Reporting was contributed by Julie Turkewitz from Houston, Campbell Robertson from Lake Charles, La., Rick Rojas from Moss Hill, Tex., and Jonah Engel Bromwich, Niraj Chokshi, Henry Fountain and Maggie Astor from New York.
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