Harvey’s worst flooding “not yet over” in southeast Texas, gov. says — live updates – CBS News
HOUSTON — Harvey’s floodwaters started dropping across much of the Houston area and the sun came out Wednesday in a glimmer of hope for the stricken city, even as the storm doubled back toward land and pounded communities farther east, near the Texas-Louisiana line.
The scope of the devastation caused by the hurricane came into sharper focus, meanwhile, and the murky green floodwaters from the record-breaking, 4-foot deluge of rain began yielding up bodies as predicted.
Harvey’s death toll rose to at least 21 on Wednesday. Police confirmed Wednesday that six members of the same family were found dead in a van that went missing Sunday.
“Unfortunately, it seems that our worst thoughts are being realized,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said after the van was found in 10 feet of muddy water.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss recovery efforts, saying “the worst is not yet over for southeast Texas.” President Trump, speaking in Springfield, Missouri, told victims that “we are here with you every single step of the way.”
While conditions in the nation’s fourth-largest city appeared to improve, authorities warned that the crisis in Houston and across the region is far from over. The storm, in fact, took a turn for the worse east of the city, close to the Louisiana line.
Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, struggled with rising floodwaters and worked to evacuate residents after Harvey completed a U-turn in the Gulf of Mexico and rolled ashore early Wednesday for the second time in six days. It hit southwestern Louisiana as a tropical storm with heavy rain and winds of 45 mph.
Forecasters predicted that a wobbling and weakening Harvey would be downgraded to a tropical depression late Wednesday or early Thursday and completely dissipate within three to four days.
But it still has lots of rain and potential damage to spread, with 4 to 8 inches forecast from the Louisiana-Texas line into Tennessee and Kentucky through Friday. Some spots may get as much as a foot, raising the risk of more flooding.
For much of the Houston area, forecasters said the rain is pretty much over.
“We have good news,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District. “The water levels are going down.”
Follow along below for live updates on the storm. All times are Eastern unless otherwise noted.
Hurricane Harvey updates:
7:25 p.m.: Houston officials hold evening press update
- Houston curfew goes in effect Thursday beginning 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. Central Time
- Received 5,000 calls for help Wednesday; 1,500 high water vehicles were dispatched to remove people out of homes or vehicles
- Up to 40 people rescued today; nearly 4,500 rescued so far (by Houston police and fire department)
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says bills will be wiped clean for police Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, who died after he became trapped in his patrol car as he was driving to work
- “This is a storm that does not discriminate simply based on geography,” Mayor Turner said
- “We have seen a transition from rescue calls to recovery operations,” Fire Chief Richard Mann said
- Mann said a “wide area search” will begin Thursday in areas hardest hit by Harvey which will be a one- to two-week process
- United Airlines will be sending help from LAX with five additional aircraft, according to Mario Diaz, regional director of Houston airport system, said
- Diaz said Thursday will see the first set of international flights begin from Houston airports (to Beijing and Instanbul)
- On Saturday midday: Southwest will resume and ramp up all of its flights from Hobby Airport (domestic and international)
- On Sunday: expecting a full complement of international and domestic operations; 75 to 85 percent over the ensuing week
- Diaz told passengers not to go to area airports unless you have a confirmed seat or received confirmation from your airline
6:55 p.m.: Louisiana governor offers aid to Texas
Wednesday afternoon brought the unusual sight of Louisiana’s governor holding a news conference on Texas soil.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards visited a command post set up by Louisiana government agencies on the side of Interstate 10 in Orange.
Edwards said Louisiana wanted to send help, including Fish and Wildlife agents and the Louisiana National Guard because “it’s the right thing to do.”
School buses and transit buses were sent from Lake Charles to carry evacuees to two shelters the state is running there. Louisiana has also opened a shelter in Alexandria, the largest city in the central part of the state.
Edwards said he’d spoken to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday about the effort. He said Louisiana would assist for “however long it takes,” saying the state owes its western neighbor a debt for its aid in 2005.
Edwards says, “Twelve years and a day ago, it was Hurricane Katrina.”
6:45 p.m.: Dramatic footage of a swift water rescue
The El Paso Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) agents and their law enforcement partners conducted a swift water rescue in Houston, Texas.
They released video which you can watch below:
6:30 p.m.: Expansion of disaster declaration sought
Louisiana Gov. Edwards asked for expansion of a federal emergency disaster declaration as Tropical Storm Harvey moves through the state.
President Trump already issued such a declaration for five southwestern parishes: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermilion.
In a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday, Edwards sought the addition of Allen, Acadia, Iberia, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine and Vernon.
The declaration authorizes the federal government to cover 75 percent of costs of certain emergency protective measures.
6:20 p.m.: Chemical plant releases updated statement
Officials from a chemical plant at risk of exploding after floodwaters caused by Harvey to knock out electricity to the facility in Crosby, Texas, released an updated statement.
“People are working around the clock under extremely challenging conditions, and the work thus far has been tremendous,” Arkema Inc. president and CEO Rich Rowe wrote in a statement.
“Right now, we have an unprecedented 6 feet of water at the plant,” the statement continued. “We have lost primary power and two sources of emergency backup power. As a result, we have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire. The high water and lack of power leave us with no way to prevent it. We have evacuated our personnel for their own safety.”
“The federal, state and local authorities were contacted a few days ago, and we are working very closely with them to manage this matter. They have ordered the surrounding community to be evacuated, too.”
6:10 p.m.: CBS News witnesses livestock rescue
CBS News producer Christina Ruffini shot video of a rescue of livestock in Crosby, Texas.
6 p.m.: Harvey may weaken to tropical depression
Forecasters predict a wobbling and weakening Harvey will be downgraded to a tropical depression late Wednesday or early Thursday and that the killer storm will completely dissipate within three to four days.
But with 40 mph winds as of Wednesday afternoon, Harvey still has lots of rain and potential damage to spread, this time further north.
The National Hurricane Center says that Harvey should drop 4 to 8 inches more of rain from the Louisiana/Texas border northeastward into Tennessee and Kentucky through Friday. Some spots may get as much as a foot of rain. Flooding is a possibility.
The threat of heavy rains for Houston has ended, but catastrophic and potentially deadly flooding will continue around Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and southwest Louisiana for the rest of the week.
5:25 p.m.: Death toll rises to 21, CBS News confirms
Two are confirmed drowned near the town of Simonton, Texas. Deputies say the two drove into high water.
The Associated Press cites authorities who say a married couple drove their pickup truck into Harvey’s floodwaters has drowned after the current from a nearby creek swept them away.
Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Maj. Chad Norvell says the couple was on the phone with 911 asking for help when the line went silent. When officers found the truck, it was completely submerged.
Norvell identified the couple as 65-year-old Donald Rogers and 58-year-old Rochelle Rogers.
They lived in a rural area of the county southwest of Houston and they were headed to a relative’s house nearby.
4:59 p.m.: Flooding in nursing home traps 70 residents
About 70 residents at a nursing home in Port Arthur, Texas, were trapped in knee-deep water with scarce food Wednesday afternoon, CBS affiliate KFDM-TV reports.
Employees tell KFDM the situation became dire at the Lake Arthur Place nursing home, where many residents were confined to wheelchairs.
Police officers arrived on the scene around 3:30 p.m. ET while KFDM was live on the air from the nursing home. Footage showed one elderly resident being pushed through several feet of water and lifted into a boat outside the facility.
4:34 p.m.: Retirement home residents evacuated by airboat
Residents of a retirement home in Orange, Texas, are being evacuated by airboat from the flooded facility about 30 miles east of Beaumont.
Agents from the Florida Wildlife Commission and two trucks from the Louisiana Army National Guard are participating in the evacuation of the Golden Years Retirement home.
Water in the parking lot was thigh deep about 3 p.m. Wednesday as guardsmen entered the building and carried residents from the second floor where they had been sheltering in a dry area of the small facility.
Wildlife agents then floated the residents, one by one in a Wildlife Commission airboat to the truck. About six residents had been rescued as of midafternoon and it was unclear how many more were sheltering on the second floor.
Texas Health and Human Services records show Golden Years has a licensed capacity of 16. Department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said more than 2,800 residents of about 120 long-term care facilities in areas affected by Harvey had been evacuated by Tuesday. That number was expected to grow.
3:43 p.m.: Death toll rises to 19 as 2 more confirmed dead
The number of people killed in relation to Harvey is now at least 19, CBS News confirms.
Joshua Feuerstein, 33, died when he drove his pickup into standing water Monday. Another man, who has not been identified, drowned Monday night after reportedly trying to swim across floodwaters on Houston’s Grand Parkway.
The death toll stood at 10 Wednesday morning and rose to 11, after a woman was found dead in Beaumont, Texas. It reached 17 after police discovered the bodies of six missing family members in a partially submerged van in a bayou in Houston.
3:05 p.m.: Death row inmate wins temporary reprieve in Texas
A 36-year-old inmate scheduled for execution in Texas next week was granted a temporary reprieve because of Harvey.
Bexar County prosecutors cited “extraordinary circumstances” in asking to move Juan Castillo’s execution to Dec. 14 because some of his legal team is based in Harris County, which has been slammed by the tropical storm. On Wednesday, a state judge agreed.
Castillo had been scheduled for lethal injection Sept. 7 in Huntsville for the slaying of 19-year-old Tommy Garcia Jr. during a 2003 robbery in San Antonio.
2:59 p.m.: Trump to Harvey victims: “We are here with you every single step of the way”
President Trump, speaking in Springfield, Missouri, addressed the ongoing crisis on the Gulf Coast before delivering remarks on tax reform Wednesday afternoon.
“Our first responders have been doing absolutely heroic work to shepherd people out of harm’s way,” Mr. Trump said. “To those affected by this storm, we are praying for you, and we are here with you every single step of the way.”
Mr. Trump spoke in Missouri one day after traveling to Texas to meet with first responders and federal officials leading the response to the storm.
“Recovery will be tough,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday. “But I have seen the resilience of the American spirit firsthand.” For more on Mr. Trump’s remarks, follow our coverage here.
2:44 p.m.: Houston airports plan to resume limited operations
George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport in Houston say they will resume limited flight operations Wednesday afternoon as floodwaters continue to recede.
The airports plan to resume limited service for domestic flights at 4 p.m. CT.
“We will attempt to begin a phased return to service, with full service expected by this weekend,” both airports said on Facebook.
The airports cautioned that many roads in Houston remain flooded, and said only confirmed ticket holders on scheduled flights should travel to the airport.
2:30 p.m.: Bodies of 6 family members found in submerged van
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez updated reporters again Wednesday afternoon. He confirmed that police had found the dead bodies of six family members in a van that was submerged in a bayou in Houston.
The dead ranged in age from 6 to 84 and included four children.
Gonzalez said one person was able to escape the van and was found clinging to a tree on Sunday. Rescuers were unable to reach the van, which was already submerged in four feet of water.
Officers discovered the van again Wednesday as flood waters receded and were able to see two bodies inside the van. Divers arrived and discovered the bodies of all six family members later Wednesday afternoon.
“We want to thank everybody for all the support and help they gave us,” a family member of the deceased told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan in Houston.
2:15 p.m.: Trump to speak soon in Missouri
President Trump has arrived in Springfield, Missouri, where he’s scheduled to deliver a speech on tax reform at 2:30 p.m. Follow along with CBS News here.
1:37 p.m.: Police find two bodies in van submerged by flooding
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said officials had found a van that was submerged by floodwaters while carrying six members of a family on Sunday.
Gonzalez told reporters the van was found partially submerged in a bayou alongside a road in Houston. Police could see two bodies inside the van and a diving crew was en route to search for others, Gonzalez said.
He said the family members’ next of kin had been notified. The family had said four children and their great-grandparents were inside when the van was swept away.
1:20 p.m.: Governor: “Worst not yet over” in southeast Texas
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said floodwaters in Houston have begun receding, but areas of southeast Texas where heavy rains continue are experiencing “catastrophic conditions [that] are a threat to life and property.”
At a press conference Wednesday, Abbott gave an update on the response to the flooding and continuing rainfall that has left at least 11 people dead.
“The worst is not yet over for southeast Texas,” Abbott said.
Abbott said about 2,000 more Texas National Guard members have been activated to assist in the response, bringing the total number of Texas guardsmen deployed to 14,000. He said approximately 10,000 members of the National Guard from other states are expected to arrive in the state soon.
The Department of Defense was providing 200 boats and 200 vehicles to help search and rescue and recovery efforts, Abbott said.
Abbott implored residents to stay off the road, saying that most of those killed in the storm and flooding have died while driving through water. He said about 32,000 people are in shelters across the state, and 30,000 beds are available as needed.
The federal government has approved the addition of 14 more counties to its disaster declaration, opening the door for federal assistance. Residents in 11 of those counties can now apply for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Abbott said. He directed residents to disasterassistance.gov to apply for aid.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved $37 million in individual assistance so far, Abbott said.
12:51 p.m.: Texas governor gives an update on Harvey response
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is delivering an update on search and rescue and recovery efforts from Austin, Texas. Watch live in the player at the top of this article.
12:44 p.m.: Cowboys-Texans preseason game canceled
An NFL preseason game between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans scheduled for Thursday has been canceled after initially being relocated from Houston to Dallas.
After the Texans played their preseason game in New Orleans last weekend, they went to North Texas instead of home in the wake of Harvey. The Texans practiced Monday and Tuesday at the Cowboys’ practice facility.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the Texans might be able to return to Houston for the first time since the hurricane made landfall last Friday.
12:23 p.m.: Coast Guard has rescued 4,200 people, FEMA says
The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued more than 4,200 people and 1,000 pets stranded by Harvey’s floodwaters in recent days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says.
In a release, FEMA, which is coordinating the federal government’s response to the storm and subsequent flooding, says more than 12,400 federal employees from 17 agencies and departments are supporting rescue and recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana. The agency said more than 1,100 FEMA search and rescue personnel have rescued 2,500 survivors from flooding in Galveston and Houston.
FEMA says more than 63,000 people or households have been approved to receive federal assistance for recovering from the storm.
12:05 p.m.: Where is Tropical Storm Harvey?
Harvey made landfall for the second time around 5 a.m. just west of Cameron, Louisiana, CBS News meteorologist David Parkinson reports. The storm now has winds of 45 mph and is gradually weakening. It’s traveling northeast at 7 mph, and is expected to end up just west of Alexandria, Louisiana, by Wednesday evening.
By Thursday morning, Harvey is expected to be downgraded to a tropical depression as it reaches Interstate 20 at the border between Louisiana and Mississippi.
Rain in Houston is coming to an end, but torrential downpours continue in far east Texas near Beaumont and Port Arthur. That rain will continue this morning before gradually shifting north. Beaumont can expect another inch or two of rain.
The area around Alexandria and Natchitoches, Louisiana, could get another 6 inches of rain throughout the day. The heaviest rain could fall just along the Texas-Louisiana border as the west side of the storm moves in.
Going forward, heavy rain will follow the track of Harvey into the Ohio River valley. Northern Mississippi and western Tennessee, possibly including the Memphis area, could get 5 inches of rain within 24 hours, which could cause flash flooding.
11:43 a.m.: Chemical plant at risk of explosion prompts evacuation
A chemical plant is at risk of exploding after floodwaters caused by Harvey knocked out electricity to the facility in Crosby, Texas, officials said Tuesday.
Arkema Inc. said in a statement that it was evacuating a small number of remaining employees from the plant in Crosby, about 20 miles northeast of downtown Houston. The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office ordered residents in a 1.5-mile radius around the site to evacuate Tuesday evening.
The plant manufactures products and chemicals that must be stored at low temperatures, the company said. Flooding knocked out power to its warehouses, and backup generators were also compromised. Rising temperatures in the storage facilities could trigger a chemical reaction that sparks a fire or explosion, the company said.
Read the full story here.
11:22 a.m.: Officials warn of potential levee breach in Houston suburb
Harris County flood control officials are concerned that a levee could fail in a suburban Houston subdivision in the north of the county, thus adding to the Harvey-related floods.
Spokesman Jeff Lindner says if the weakened section of levee along Cypress Creek in Inverness Forest is breached, water is going to rise “very quickly and very fast, and it is going to be deep.”
He says the water could reach the rooftops of homes immediately in the levee area. The area is under a mandatory evacuation order due to Harvey, but some residents have remained.
Lindner says county authorities are working with several agencies to figure out how to increase pressure on the outside of the levee to compensate for the tremendous pressure inside due to record amounts of water.
10:28 a.m.: Nearly all Houston-area waterways crest
Officials say nearly all Houston-area waterways inundated by Harvey’s record rainfall have crested, but that water levels continue to rise in two flood-control reservoirs.
Jeff Lindner of the Harris County Flood Control District says river levels are going down Wednesday “for the first time in several days.”
Army Corps of Engineers regional engineer Edmond Russo says water in the Barker and Addicks reservoirs in west Houston rose slightly overnight and is likely to crest Wednesday, but slightly below forecast levels.
The reservoirs have received 32 to 35 inches of rain since Harvey hit last weekend, but Russo says less than an inch of rain is forecast in the coming week.
Lindner says “we’re getting very close to the peak of both reservoirs.”
9:02 a.m.: Thousands at Houston convention center
About 8,300 people spent the night at the George R. Brown Convention Center Tuesday — about a thousand fewer people than the day before. The Red Cross told CBS News Wednesday morning that everyone inside the convention center now has a cot and people can also take showers.
On Tuesday, “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell spoke to a woman about the conditions inside. She went back later in the day to see the situation herself.
“Houston wasn’t prepared. The government wasn’t prepared. The mayor wasn’t prepared,” said Harvey evacuee Michelle Lavan.
8:15 a.m.: Large refinery shutting down due to flooding
Motiva Enterprises announced early Wednesday that it had started a controlled shutdown of its major refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, because of flooding. The company said the refinery would be restarted when the floodwaters receded.
6:03 a.m.: Dire situation in Port Arthur
CBS Beaumont affiliate KFDM-TV reported the situation in Port Arthur was “dire” early Wednesday, with homes expected to fill with rising floodwaters and residents unsure how to evacuate the city. Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens told the station some county residents had gone into “survival mode.”
After five days of torrential rain, the latest weather forecast predicted less than an inch more and perhaps even sunshine for the Houston area.
However, the dangers were far from over. Authorities reported at least 10 deaths from Harvey.
In all, more than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters, and that number seemed certain to increase, the American Red Cross said.
Houston’s largest shelter housed 10,000 of the displaced as two additional mega-shelters opened Tuesday for the overflow. Louisiana’s governor offered to take in Harvey victims from Texas, and televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Houston megachurch, a 16,000-seat former arena, after critics blasted him on social media for not acting to help families displaced by the storm.
12:50 a.m.: Houston warns residents of imposter ICE agents
The city of Houston Tuesday night warned residents about imposter Homeland Security agents who are telling people to evacuate their homes, in what the city said it believes is an effort to rob houses.
Real Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents wear badges labeled “special agent” and they carry credentials, Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement. Residents should ask to see the badges and the credentials of anyone who says they are agents.
Additionally, ICE agents are not enforcing immigration raids during the emergency.
Find previous updates on Harvey here.
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