Harvey Live Updates: Waters Still Rising as Storm Pummels Region for 6th Day – New York Times
With rivers still rising, and emergency workers still rescuing soaked and frightened people in southeast Texas who have lost nearly all they own, officials counseled patience on Tuesday, warning that conditions for many residents will not improve any time soon.
The slow-moving, record-shattering Harvey, now a tropical storm, pummeled the Houston region for a sixth straight day and began to batter southwest Louisiana. With hundreds of thousands of people under evacuation orders, shelters filled to bursting with people who craved some news about the safety of their loved ones and the state of their homes.
For now, the city’s focus “will continue to be on rescue,” and not on damage assessment — much less recovery — Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a news conference.
Here’s the latest:
• The National Weather Service said Tuesday that Harvey has now set a record for total rainfall from a single tropical cyclone in the continental United States, with two weather stations in Texas reporting total rainfall over 48 inches.
• Local officials said there were 13 deaths in Texas so far that were storm-related or suspected to be storm-related. Officials in Houston confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, died while driving to duty on Sunday.
• The Houston Police Department has rescued more than 3,500 people from flooding since the storm began, Chief Art Acevedo said on Tuesday, up from about 2,000 a day earlier. The city fire chief, Samuel Peña, said his department had performed more than 400 rescues. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office did not have an updated figure on Tuesday, but said it was considerably higher than the roughly 2,200 rescues it reported on Monday.
• President Trump is visiting Texas, having arrived in Corpus Christi before traveling to Austin, the state capital.
• Follow the Times correspondents reporting on the story 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.
More rain is expected through Friday.
Parts of Houston have already been inundated by more than 40 inches, and totals could exceed 50 inches there and 20 inches in southern Louisiana. With sustained winds near 45 miles per hour, the storm is not expected to weaken until its center moves further inland early Wednesday.
As for the record rainfall, a station at Clear Creek, near Interstate 45 southeast of Houston, measured 48.64 inches of rain since Harvey began, and one at Mary’s Creek in Pearland, a suburb, recorded 49.32 inches. The amount of 48.00 inches was recorded in Medina, Tex., during Amelia, a tropical storm in 1978.
Weather service officials noted that storm is not over and that those numbers may soon surpass the overall United States record for total rainfall from a single cyclone. In Hawaii during Hurricane Hiki in 1950, 52.00 inches of rain were recorded at a ranger station on Kauai.
How much rain is that where you live? Check your city or zipcode, via The Upshot.
Trump visits Texas.
Mr. Trump arrived in Corpus Christi on Tuesday for a briefing on relief efforts, and was heading 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.
A levee breach threatens a village near Houston.
A levee designed to protect the community of Columbia Lakes, 40 miles southwest of Houston, from the Brazos River was breached Tuesday morning, Brazoria County officials said.
Columbia Lakes is a small resort village with a country club and golf course, and is surrounded by levees. Residents were ordered to “GET OUT NOW!!” according to a Twitter message, although many had already left after a mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday.
Tom MacNeil, an owner of a real estate brokerage in the town, said that residents who were still there told him the breach occurred in a levee alongside a creek that flows into the Brazos. Because the Brazos is rising, the creek backed up and poured through two low spots on the levee. The residents shored up the low spots and there was no water in the streets, Mr. MacNeil said.
But the National Weather Service has forecast that the Brazos, currently just above flood stage at 30 feet, will rise another few feet by Wednesday and go over the levees, which are at 32 feet.
“That’s the scary part we’re watching for,” Mr. MacNeil said.
Reservoirs are reaching their capacity in Houston, too.
Water rose to the top of an emergency spillway at a major flood-control reservoir west of downtown Houston on Tuesday morning, threatening to add to flooding in the area.
Levels at the Addicks reservoir dam read slightly more than 108 feet, the height at which water should overtop the spillway at the dam’s northern end. But officials said observers had so far seen no sign of water going over the structure.
“We do expect it to happen,” said Mike Sterling, lead water manager for Army Corp of Engineers’ Southwest Division. Efforts to release water through the dam’s gates have not kept the reservoir level from rising.
Mr. Sterling said that most of the overflow should enter drainage ditches and eventually flow into Buffalo Bayou, which passes through downtown Houston. But rising water is putting several neighborhoods north of the reservoir, including Twin Lakes, Eldridge Park and Tanner Heights, at risk of more flooding.
Levels at another nearby reservoir, Barker, are increasing as well and its spillway may overtop soon, Corps officials say.
And in a cruel paradox, the city also has to worry about having enough 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.
Houston’s downtown convention center had filled with evacuees.
Thousands of people gathered on green cots under a constellation of fluorescent lights in the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Houston area’s largest shelter. The venue, where the city at first talked of housing 5,000 people, had more than 9,000 by Tuesday, Mayor Turner said.
The place smelled like sweat. Flood-soaked residents shivered under blankets. On one wall, a mountain of donated clothing nearly touched the ceiling, and a snaking line of people with pets included a woman with a cage holding bunnies, chickens and at least one chihuahua. Toddlers screamed. Evacuees recounted the day’s horrors.
Amid the chaos, Red Cross workers circled like doting chaperones, carrying cots on their heads, doling out plastic baggies of candy and making sure everyone had the new sweatpants that fit them best. Strangers gathered around phone-charging stations. A mass of volunteers convened in the lobby, ready to assist.
And by the bathroom stood Estella Aguilar, 87 and 4-foot-6, wearing a red cashmere sweater and carrying a handbag. She’d arrived alone from her home in the city’s Second Ward after learning that Buffalo Bayou threatened to flood her out. “I can’t swim,” she said, “never learned.”
Ms. Aguilar surveyed the scene. “Everything is special when you’re in this predicament,” she said, rubbing her heart and watching the volunteers. “I love it. You see people helping other people.”
Arelis Vallecilla, her husband Chad Stearns and their six school-age children bedded down for the night in the convention center, after rising flood waters destroyed their home, their truck and virtually all their possessions. They woke Monday morning to find water had risen to the level of the mattresses they slept on.
“We lost everything,” said Ms. Vallecilla, 38. “We don’t know where we’re going to go and what happens next,” she said.
‘Mega-shelter’ in Dallas was to take in thousands of evacuees.
The City of Dallas on Tuesday was to open what it calls a “mega-shelter” — the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, outfitted to house up to 5,000 people. Dallas already had smaller shelters taking in people fleeing the storm, and Mayor Mike Rawlings said on Monday that the city has been asked to brace for “numbers that could be up in the tens of thousands.”
Shelters have opened as far inland as San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, more than 250 miles from the Gulf Coast, as well as in the storm-ravaged region. In Fort Worth, 30 miles west of Dallas, Mayor Betsy Price said city officials were preparing to activate three shelters at the state’s request.
State officials have estimated that shelters have taken in more than 30,000 storm evacuees, and an unknown number of others people have left their homes and made other arrangements. Hundreds of thousands of people live in coastal areas that are under evacuation orders.
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