United States rescue agencies in Huston were struggling to find beds Monday for tens of thousands of citizens driven from their homes by a monster rainstorm that swamped America’s fourth largest city.
AFP correspondents wrote that roads are flooded, Houston’s two airports have suspended commercial flights and two hospitals have been forced to evacuate their patients, while volunteers, rescue agencies and the National Guard battle to ferry beleaguered families from their homes.
At least three people have died so far, with reports of other fatalities still unconfirmed, in what the National Hurricane Center called the biggest rainstorm on record, which crashed ashore late Friday as Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey is now expected to swing back on itself and back over the warm waters of the Gulf on Mexico, sucking up another load of rain before doubling back midweek, on a deadly path back across Texas and Louisiana and deep into the US interior.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Brock Long said finding shelter for those flooded out of their homes would be his next priority.
“We’re anticipating over 30,000 people being placed in shelters temporarily to basically stabilize the situation and provide for their care,” he said.
“This is a landmark event. We have not seen an event like this. You could not dream this forecast up. You couldn’t draw this situation up.”
President Donald Trump plans to go to the disaster zone on Tuesday.
On Monday, he declared a federal state of emergency in Louisiana to match that in Texas and free up funds for relief and rescue.
As of Monday morning, there were reports of five to six inches (12.7 to 15.2 centimeters) of rain per hour and unofficial reports of up to eight inches in a band of heavy rainfall.
– Roads completely submerged –
“It’s crazy to see the roads you’re driving on every day just completely under water,” Houston resident John Travis told AFP.
Overwhelmed emergency services warned residents to head for high ground or climb onto rooftops — not into attics — so they could be seen by rescue helicopters. More than 2,000 rescues had been made so far.
Emergency 911 operators in Houston received 56,000 calls in a 15-hour span.