Texan fire fighters are now going door-to-door in a grim search for survivors and victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Flood waters have receded enough in Houston for the recovery mission to begin, six days after the hurricane first made landfall, and there are increasing sightings of bodies floating in the flood water in Beaumont.
The official death toll across the entire Gulf Coast region is currently 38 but it is likely to become exponentially higher as the bodies of the dead are recovered.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said previously that he feared how many bodies his officers would find. His bleak outlook was echoed by Fire Department Chief Terry Garrison at a press conference late on Tuesday night.
‘We’re going to start transitioning from a rescue mode to more of recovery operation. We’re going to be going block to block, door to door, to search structures which we believe have had 3ft or greater of water to ensure that there are no people we have left behind,’ he said.
As Houston prepared to face the hurricane’s grisly aftermath, there was still imminent danger and panic in other parts of Texas and the Gulf Coast.
In east Texas, the entire city of Beaumont is now without running water. Residents in some parts of Tyler County, which has a population of around 20,000 which sits to the north of the city, were told to ‘get out or die’ on Wednesday night as rivers overflowed, triggering yet more floods.
Anyone who chose to stay behind was told to write their social security number on their arm so that emergency services would later be able to identify their body.
There was also fresh danger in Harris County in Houston after two explosions at a chemical plant. Fifteen police officers were taken to hospital for treatment after being exposed to the harmful substances which were released from Arkema Inc. Plant as a result of the blasts.
Harvey has almost cleared out of Texas and is making its way over Louisiana in the less severe form of a tropical depression. By Friday night, it will creep up in a northwest diagonal direction over Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, bringing heavy not not life-threatening rain.
More than 48,000 homes have been destroyed by the storm and there are now 32,000 people in shelters across Texas.
Houses in Port Arthur, Texas, on Thursday morning. The true devastation of Hurricane Harvey unfolded on Wednesday as emergency crews began the grisly mission of recovering bodies from homes and flood water
Water swamps Port Arthur, Texas, where thousands were impacted by the wrath of Hurricane Harvey earlier in the week
Houses in Port Arthur, Texas, on Thursday morning. With the rain finally over in Houston and other parts of Texas and the flood waters now receding, recovery missions can start
There were two explosions at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Houston on Thursday morning as a result of the floods
A satellite image on Thursday morning shows Harvey moving away from Texas and towards Mississippi and Tennessee
In Houston alone, the fire department has received 15,000 calls for help since Harvey made landfall. Some areas of the city continue to be at risk as water from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs is released, causing the flood level in areas nearby to rise.
On Tuesday, 40 survivors were rescued from flood water in the city. The emergency services have rescued 3,500 in total since Harvey began.
‘Most of our crews are on duty. They have been working non-stop, 48 hour shifts,’ Chief Garrison said on Wednesday.
Houston Police Department officers are not being allowed to go home until the crisis is under control.
‘When they need downtime, we’re sending them to cots to rest. We have kept them working and they will continue to do that,’ Asst. Chief Larry Satterwhite said.
In Beaumont, recovery efforts are still a long way off as emergency services frantically work on rescuing people from the rising waters.
On Tuesday night, the Netches river level rose to a terrifying 82ft. It prompted a sudden and dramatic warning from the Tyler County Emergency Department which said in a late night Facebook post: ‘The loss of life and property is certain. Get out or die!’
More water is expected to rush down on Houston from the Barker reservoir which is on the verge of overflowing. A mandatory evacuation order was issued late on Tuesday for people living near the dam. Many at-risk neighborhoods in its periphery have already been abandoned.
Despite the fact that Harvey has been downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression, the National Hurricane Center warned of continuing flooding in parts of southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
Harvey is making its way out of Texas and Louisiana and is moving towards Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky
Light rain will continue in parts of Louisiana, all of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina. There will be heavier rain in parts of Tennessee, northern Mississippi and a small pocket of Arkansas until Friday but the rainfall will come nowhere close to measuring the 51 inches which fell in Texas over the weekend and earlier in the week
Rescues are still ongoing in some parts of Texas including Buffalo Bayou in Houston, one of the first places to be severely flooded, (left) and Port Arthur (right) which was devastated on Tuesday
Two explosions at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, have released harmful substances in to the air and water
On Wednesday, police in Houston churn through flood water looking for victims. The death toll will rise significantly from 38 as they continue their recovery mission
A volunteer searches for evacuees through flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Northwest Houston, Texas on Wednesday
Marines with 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve and joint integrated agencies conducting search and rescue operations in order to evacuate civilians from their homes and life-threatening conditions in Beaumont, Texas on Wednesday
Two rescuers from US Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 7 are lowered to a house after Tropical Storm Harvey flooded a neighborhood in Beaumont, Texas on Wednesday
Houses are seen partially submerged in flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Northwest Houston
Residents are evacuated through flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in West Houston
Rescue crews are seen with boats near flood waters brought by Tropical Storm Harvey in West Housto
Residents wade with their belongings through flood waters brought by Tropical Storm Harvey in Northwest Houston on Wednesday
The cost of the damage, which includes 500,000 ruined cars, is likely to total $160 billion. The Texas Department of Safety revealed on Wednesday that 48,700 homes had been impacted by the floods.
Even evacuation shelters in parts of the state were not safe from the chaos. Water rushed through the Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur on Tuesday where scores of evacuees were taking shelter.
Harvey has brought the heaviest rainfall in US history, soaking Texas with more than 51 inches since it first made landfall last Friday.
The Houston Fire Department said Wednesday it will conduct a block-by-block search of neighborhoods that were flooded by Harvey and had previously been inaccessible to authorities starting Thursday morning.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned residents that the worst of Hurricane Harvey is not over and that it will take months for the state to recover from its devastating floods.
‘The worst is not yet over as far as the rain goes for southeast Texas. There’s more to come,’ he said at a press conference on Wednesday where he described the catastrophe as being ‘far larger’ than Katrina or Sandy.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has warned residents that the worst of Hurricane Harvey is not over and that it will take months for the state to recover from its devastating floods. Pictured: Residents are evacuated through flood waters in West Houston on Wednesday
A sign reading ‘turn around’ and ‘deep water’ warns evacuees of the flood waters in Lakeside Estate in Houston on Wednesday
Experts are describing storm Harvey as the worst natural disaster in US history. Pictured: Residents being evacuated on jet skis and boats in Northwest Houston on Wednesday
At least 38 people have been killed as a result of the devastating floods and in one area of Houston alone there were another 17 deaths reported on Wednesday. Pictured: Residents evacuating floods in West Houston
The cost of the damage, which includes 500,000 ruined cars, is likely to total $160 billion. Pictured: Residents are rescued from flooded areas of West Houston
The Texas Department of Safety revealed on Wednesday that 48,700 homes had been impacted by the floods. Pictured: residents are rescued in West Houston
Cattle graze around flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey near Sandy Point, in Texas
Planes are surrounded by flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey at the West Houston Airport in Texas
The hurricane center said Harvey is located about 10 miles southwest of Alexandria, Louisiana and has maximum sustained winds of 35mph.
The center said the threat of heavy rains has ended for the Houston and Galveston areas, but ‘life-threatening’ flooding will continue in and around Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and southwest Louisiana, where many are still in need of rescue, particularly in Beaumont and Port Arthur.
Harvey is expected to produce an additional four to eight inches of rainfall along the Texas-Louisiana line.
A levee on private property near Gueydan, Louisiana had a 30-yard section washed away in the 2016 flood and was never replaced, according to Louisiana State Police Master Trooper Brooks David, who said the water was going through that portion of the levee on Wednesday.
A nearby highway has been blocked off in the area of the levee and about 30 homes in Gueydan could be in danger if the water rises. At its highest point, the flooding has reached about a foot, according to KATC.
Because the levee is on property owned by an oil company, negotiations are underway for public funding to be used to legally help fix the levee.
Meanwhile, the state’s Lake Charles Civic Center is stocking up and preparing to take in flooding evacuees from Texas and Louisiana.
In Texas, anyone who is still in need of rescue is being asked to get on high ground and wave white towels or sheets to make themselves visible. Overwhelmed authorities are asking anyone with boats to help in the rescue efforts.
As rescue teams and volunteers continue rescuing stranded residents from the waters, National Guardsmen and women have been brought back from overseas deployment to help with the disaster.
A woman paddles down a flooded road while shuttling deliveries for her neighbors during the aftermath of Harvey
Railway lines are seen surrounded by flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, near Sandy Point
Cars pass through flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey along Tanner Road in West Houston
Flooded homes are shown near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey
A flooded gas station is seen during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey Houston on Wednesday
Eighty-year-old John Paul Klotz, center, pulls his can out of floodwaters as US Border Patrol Agent Steven Blackburn stands by to help Klotz board an boat during a search a rescue operation in a neighborhood inundated by Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston Wednesday
Klotz is pulled on a boat by US Border Patrol Agents Steven Blackburn, left, Ramiro Rodriguez, top center, and Juan Flores during a search a rescue operation in a neighborhood inundated by floodwaters in Houston on Wednesday
Saltwater Salvage diver Justin Hendrickson prepares to dive near the Columbia Lakes subdivision on Wednesday in West Columbia. Hendrickson was walked to the dive spot by fellow diver Dave Oltroge before he dove to shut a levee gate value to prevent more flooding to the neighborhood
The US Coast Guard responds to search and rescue requests after Hurricane Harvey in the Beaumont on Wednesday. The Coast Guard is working closely with all federal, state and local emergency operations centers and has established incident command posts to manage search and rescue operations
There are currently 14,000 troops mobilized in Texas and another 10,000 are on their way, Governor Abbott revealed on Wednesday. The troops already in Texas have conducted more than 8,500 rescues and more than 1,400 shelter-in-place checks, Abbott said.
There are also two US Navy warships being deployed to Texas to help with relief efforts.
The Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship and the Oak Hill, a smaller dock landing ship, were being sent to support ‘federal, state and local authorities ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey,’ according to the Navy.
Abbott would not give an official death toll but praised volunteers and first responders for going ‘above the call of duty’ to save lives.
‘I am not amazed because we have seen this before,’ he said when asked for his response to the efforts of residents to help one another through the crisis.
‘Texans really step up and protect and aide their fellow Texans.
There are 32,000 evacuees at shelters across Texas and an estimated 48,000 homes have been destroyed by the storm. Above, a man naps as a young girl next to him sits on a skee ball machine at Max Bowl in Port Arthur
Evacuees rest on cots in a shelter at Woodcrest Church after their homes were damaged from rising flood waters due to Tropical Storm Harvey on Wednesday in Lumberton, Texas
A man and woman pray as they find a spot together at the Max Bowl in Port Arthur, Texas, on Wednesday
A man sleeps on one of the bowling ball returns on Wednesday as evacuees continue to pour into the Max Bowl, which was converted to a shelter for those displaced by flooding in Port Arthur
‘Whether you’re a first responder, neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger – Texans have really stepped up.’
Mexico’s Red Cross also sent an envoy of volunteers to storm-devastated Houston on Wednesday, hours after Abbott said the state accepted an offer of aid from the Mexican government, including vehicles, boats, supplies and food.
The support from Mexico’s Red Cross, a non-government agency, is separate from the official aid offer.
The convoy of 33 English-speaking volunteers left from Mexico City for Texas, where they plan to work in Houston shelters for 20 days before being replaced by a fresh crop of volunteers.
Abbott said his state would accept the offer of assistance from neighboring Mexico.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thanked Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who was visiting Washington, for the offer of assistance.
‘They’ve offered a wide range of assistance coordinating with the governor down in Texas and also through FEMA, but very generous of Mexico to offer their help at this very, very challenging time for our citizens down in Texas and now moving toward the border with Louisiana,’ said Tillerson. ‘So thank you very much, Mr Secretary.’
The flooding will take up to a week to disappear in Texas, he said, and the clean-up mission will take months.
Residents wade with their belongings through flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey while awaiting rescue in Northwest Houston on Wednesday
Jason Hunt, a firefighter from Arkadelphia, Arkansas, carries a woman to dry ground on Wednesday after she was rescued from her apartment complex when it was inundated with water in Houston
Evacuees ride on a truck after they were driven from their homes by the flooding from Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday in Port Arthur
A home in Port Arthur is surrounded by water after the flooding of Hurricane Harvey inundated the area
Trucks pass each other along Highway 90 after parts of the road were flooded by Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday in Port Arthur
Chris Wiley keeps an eye out for people needing help in Port Arthur, Texas, on Wednesday
In Beaumont, 26 inches of rain have already fallen and another 10 inches are due to fall before Harvey moves away and on to its next victim – Louisiana.
Rescue operations are underway in southeast parts of the region with scores still trapped in their homes as water engulfs them.
In Houston, the flood waters have begun to recede but it will take days for them to entirely drain.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena says firefighters will begin searching neighborhoods in southwest Houston starting Thursday morning.
Assistant Fire Chief Richard Mann says the searches are being done to ensure that “no people were left behind.” Floodwaters in many parts of Houston have receded while other neighborhoods are still dealing with rising waters from bayous and other swollen waterways.
Mann says the fire department will conduct these searches throughout the city. Officials expect the process to take one to two weeks to complete.
Mann says since Harvey inundated the Houston area, the fire department has received more than 15,000 calls for service. He says the volume of calls has stabilized and the fire department is working to transition from rescues calls to a recovery mode.
A cat tries to find dry ground around an apartment complex in Houston on Wednesday
Evacuees in Port Arthur wait to be transported to a shelter after being rescued from flooding on Wednesday
Evacuees are evacuated on a motorboat after being rescued in Port Arthur on Wednesday
Volunteers help handle a boat in a swift current during the rescue of of people from their homes in Beaumont on Wednesday
Abbott also used the press conference to admonish businesses and opportunists who were taking advantage of the catastrophe with price gauging.
Best Buy is among retailers under fire for hiking up prices as panic surges across Texas. It has apologized after photographs emerged of packs of water being sold for $42.
‘Price gauging is not only reprehensible, it’s illegal. It is un-Texan and we will not tolerate it.
Almost 30,000 gallons of crude oil and about 8,500 gallons of wastewater spilled about 150 miles west of Houston because floodwaters from Harvey toppled two oil storage tanks, state officials said Wednesday.
Burlington Resources Oil and Gas reported the spills in DeWitt County to the Texas Railroad Commission on Wednesday. They include a 16,170-gallon (385 barrels) spill near the town of Westhoff and a 13,272 gallon (316 barrels) spill west of Hochheim.
It was not immediately clear if any of the spilled oil was recovered.
Burlington Resources is a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips. Company representatives did not immediately respond to telephone and email messages seeking comment.
More damage to oil industry infrastructure is expected to emerge as floodwaters recede.
David White hugs his neighbor, Sherry Blincoe, after she was rescued by boat from her flooded home in Beaumont on Wednesday
The group of volunteers pull the rescue boat from the sweeping currents in Beaumont on Wednesday
Despite continued reports of damage, Houston’s two major airports reopened Wednesday on a limited basis, as floodwaters receded and the skies over the Texas city cleared with monster storm Harvey moving to the east.
The two airports, George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby, were to resume operations at 4pm, after the runways and roads leading to the airport were cleared of water.
No flights were imminent, but airport officials hoped airlines would quickly resume service.
‘This is going to be a phased process,’ Houston airport system spokesman Bill Begley told AFP, adding that domestic flights would resume first.
‘We’re focusing on this weekend, probably when we’re going to see more and more flights at both airports.’
Thousands of flights have been canceled or delayed due to Harvey.
About 800 passengers with connecting flights were stuck at the city’s airports as Harvey made landfall over the weekend as a Category Four hurricane.
Starting Sunday, air carriers evacuated most of those passengers out of the airports to Dallas, Chicago or Detroit, where they could be connected to flights to their ultimate destinations.
Begley said fully reopening the airports was part of the city’s effort to return to a sense of normalcy. It also signaled to airlines that ‘it’s time to get started,’ he said.
‘I do believe that it shows that we’re moving forward a little bit.’
Southwest Airlines announced that it planned to resume flights Saturday.
Volunteers help a woman after she was rescued by boat from her home in Beaumont, Texas on Wednesday
Volunteer rescuer Derek Burke carries Jaylen Welch, 10, out of the flood on Tram Road in Beaumont on Wednesday
Nathan Welch carries his daughter, Elisa, 3, out of the flood on Tram Road on Wednesday
Volunteer Derek Burke, right, helps carry a family’s belongings after boaters rescued them from flooding in the aftermath of Harvey in Beaumont on Wednesday
Jaylen Welch, 10, carries her belongings out of the flood on Tram Road in Beaumont after being rescued from flooding on Wednesday
Volunteers help evacuate children from flooding in Beaumont on Wednesday
Josh Benoit carries his Great Dane, Lilly, out of the flood on Tram Road in Beaumont, Texas on Wednesday
Carson Littlefield (left) carries his husky, Spike to safety in Beaumont, Texas. Also in Beaumont, Cory (right) carries his dog out of the flood on Tram Road on Wednesday
A woman looks out the window of Golden Years senior home in Orange, Texas, as its residents wait to be rescued on Wednesday. Authorities have asked anyone who is trapped to hang white towels, sheets or shirts outside to make themselves visible to rescue crews
Volunteers help handle a boat in a swift current during the rescue of of people from their homes in Beaumont on Wednesday
A volunteer rescues a family and their dogs from their flooded house in Beaumont on Wednesday
People walk along West Port Arthur Road in Beaumont, Texas toward a flooded neighborhood where their family members live after tropical storm Harvey on Wednesday
Evacuees ride on a truck after they were driven from their homes by the flooding from Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday in Port Arthur
Mark Boling keeps an eye out for people needing help in Port Arthur on Wednesday after the flooding of Hurricane Harvey inundated the area
Evacuees make their way through the flood waters that surrounded part of the Max Bowl, which was converted to a shelter for those displaced by flooding in Port Arthur, Texas on Wednesday
Evacuees make their way to Max Bowl, which was converted to a shelter for those displaced by flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey in Port Arthur
A woman gets off a bus at the Max Bowl in Port Arthur, Texas, a bowling alley converted into a shelter as people are displaced from their homes because of flooding from tropical storm Harvey
Tim Linscomb pushes his 12-year-old son through flood water as they evacuate their home in Orange, Texas, on Wednesday
Triumphant residents make their way through the floods on Wednesday in Houston, Texas
Gillis Leho surveys the damage in her car that was ruined by flood waters in Buffalo Bayou
A car floats through rising flood waters in Buffalo Bayou on Wednesday morning in Texas
Two men ride through flood waters in Houston on a jet ski on Wednesday. The rain has stopped in Houston and the floods are now receding but it will take up to a week for them to drain
An evacuee cowers in a Red Cross cot at the Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur, Texas, as flood water rises around them on Tuesday night. The evacuees were moved to another shelter shortly after this photograph was taken
The Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur, Texas, – where hundreds were taking shelter from Hurricane Harvey – flooded on Tuesday night as the floods continued to rise
Children and adults were forced to wade through more flood water at the shelter, after already being rescued once, before they were taken to another safe, dry center
On Wednesday, Joel Myers of AccuWeather warned that Harvey had surpassed all other storms in terms of destruction.
‘This will be the worst natural disaster in American history. The economy’s impact, by the time its total destruction is completed, will approach $160 billion, which is similar to the combined effect of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,’ he told The New York Post.
At a midday press conference, Governor Greg Abbott said the worst of the rain was not over in Beaumont and Port Arthur and said the disaster was worse than Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
‘When you consider the population, size, and square mile size of the area impacted both by the hurricane swathe and the flooding, it’s far larger than Katrina, far larger than Sandy.’
At the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, the city’s main shelter, 10,000 are cramming in to cots, chairs and on the floor.
Among the places to open their doors to victims of Harvey’s flooding is a bowling alley in the coastal Texas city of Port Arthur.
Max Bowl general manager Jeff Tolliver says firefighters called Tuesday night to ask him to turn off the venue’s alarm system. When he left around 2.30am Wednesday, there were 80 to 100 people sheltering there. By afternoon, there were more than 500, as well as 50 to 100 dogs and cats, a lizard and a monkey.
He says the monkey ‘was a little surprising,’ but that everyone is trying to help. The bowling alley’s cafe is feeding people and others have been dropping off clothes, toiletries, water and other things.
Tolliver and his wife left their flooded home to stay with friends. He says he moved to Texas from Michigan a year ago to get away from the snow, but ended up with rain instead.
A man carries his dog through flood water after being evacuated from a neighborhood in west Houston on Wednesday
As funding efforts continue, celebrities including actor Kevin Hart and Real Housewives of New York star and business mogul Bethenny Frankel have pledged more than $50,000 combined.
NFL Houston Texans’ player JJ Watt raised more than $8.9million for Hurricane Harvey victims on a YouCaring page by early Thursday morning.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation donated $1million to the newly established United Way Harvey Recovery Fund which will go toward relief and recovery efforts for several years.
United Way Worldwide said Wednesday that the national fund will distribute 100 percent of donations to recovery efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded non-profit.
The $1 million from the actor’s foundation represents the inaugural donation to the fund. It is the latest disaster relief support from the Oscar-winner’s namesake foundation.
Many celebrities have pulled out their pocketbooks to help Harvey victims over the past few days including Sandra Bullock, who on Tuesday donated $1 million to the American Red Cross.
Businesses are also stepping up to help. According to an estimate by the US Chamber of Commerce, 42 companies have pledged $72million to Harvey relief efforts as of late Wednesday afternoon.
Those companies have each donated $1million or more. Verizon alone contributed $10million.
However, the numbers continue to change as contributions come in, according to CNN Money.
People line up to buy groceries in the Chanelview section of Houston on Wednesday as the flood waters recede
A family is taken to safety on board a propeller boat in Orange, Texas, on Wednesday
Volunteer Kyle Denison walks with Rosemarie Carpenter after rescuing her in Orange, Texas, on Wednesday
Experts are calling Harvey, which has brought the heaviest rainfall in US history, the worst natural disaster the country has ever seen. Above, a home in Houston on Tuesday which is now entirely underwater
A shocking before and after comparison illustrates the flooding on I-10 west of Beaumont in Texas
A record 51.88 inches of rain had fallen in Cedar’s Bayou, one of the worst affected areas in Houston, by Tuesday afternoon.
Search and rescue missions are still underway and the number of people still trapped in their homes is unknown.
More than 13,000 have been rescued from their homes and from the water since the storm hit over the weekend.
A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana but it is not expected to suffer the same devastation as Houston where river levees have burst and dams on the outskirts of the city are overflowing.
On Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted of his heartbreak after spending the day in Corpus Christi where thousands have been rendered homeless.
‘After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey,my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!’ he said.
This map shows Harvey’s path so far and indicates where the storm is expected next
Churches across the city have opened their doors to displaced residents as have mosques and concert arenas.
Other Good Samaritans have rushed to help including mattress and furniture store owner Jim McIngvale who welcomed evacuees into his shops on Monday.
He created a play pen for children and heartwarming photographs of them jumping up and down on his mattresses emerged.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday his agency has rescued about 4,100 people. Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña says they have rescued more than 3,000.
Parisa Safarzadeh, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office says her agency has rescued more than 3,000 people. Houston is located in Harris County.
US Coast Guard Lt Mike Hart says his agency has rescued more than 3,000 individuals.
Hart says the Coast Guard total includes rescues in Houston, but also in outlying cities and subdivisions outside of Houston, as well as in surrounding counties, including Brazoria, Galveston and Matagorda.
Air Force Major General Witham, the director of domestic operations for the National Guard Bureau, told reporters there are currently about 3,500 National Guard troops involved in Harvey rescue efforts, including 3,000 from the Texas National Guard.
He estimated that the Texas guard number could rise to 8,000 to 10,000 in coming days, possibly joined by 20,000 to 30,000 from other states.
A photograph taken inside the home of grandmother Edelmira Gutierrez shows the flooding in Concord Bridge. She was rescued by members of the Fire Department
He said the military is providing everything that has been requested by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, although the response is constrained by the stormy weather and by flooding that limits use of roadways.
He said weather has limited the use of military helicopters over the past two or three days, so the Guard has instead used boats and ground vehicles to rescue stranded residents in the Houston area.
Besides the additional National Guard troops from other states, there are about 1,000 active-duty military forces in position to provide assistance if called up by civilian authorities, he said.
Brazoria County – a suburb south of Houston – issued this dramatic warning on Tuesday morning as the levees of the Brazos river burst in Columbia Lakes
Asked whether Texas authorities recognized the magnitude of the disaster quickly enough, Witham said, ‘That’s debatable.’ He said in some respects the need was recognized quickly. But the extraordinary amount of rainfall and flooding exceeded what state planners could have foreseen.
‘So if you’re looking at an event that only occurs every few hundred years, the planning that would have normally occurred for that probably wasn’t here,’ Witham said.
‘So, in many cases, the request for assistance, not only for the National Guard but federal forces, may not have been anticipated quickly enough.’
As waters continue to rise, public health officials are warning that flooding increases the risk of illnesses ranging from skin rashes to bacterial and viral infections and mosquito-borne disease.
On Monday afternoon the town of Dickinson issued a mandatory evacuation order and residents near Columbia Lakes in Brazoria County were told Tuesday morning to leave immediately after a levee was breached.
Residents within 1.5miles of a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, were evacuated on Tuesday as a ‘precautionary measure’ because of the rising risk of an explosion, the local fire marshal’s office said in a Twitter message.
More than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters and that number seemed certain to increase, the American Red Cross said.
As people continue to flock to the overcrowded George R Brown Convention Center, Houston is planning to open a few other ‘mega-shelters’ for evacuees.
‘We are not turning anyone away. But it does mean we need to expand our capabilities and our capacity,’ Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. ‘Relief is coming.
Port Arthur authorities pleaded for help from volunteers on Wednesday
Televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Houston megachurch, a 17,000-seat former arena that was the longtime home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, on Tuesday as a shelter after social media critics slammed him for not offering to house people in need while Harvey swamps the city.
Osteen announced the effort in a tweet, saying he and wife Victoria Osteen ‘care deeply about our fellow Houstonians’.
Later in the day, the Toyota Center was accepting people who could not find space at the convention center.
However the arena had only 500 cots added to its floor because the convention center will remain the primary shelter for Harvey evacuees.
Mayor Turner said Tuesday night that people will still have to go to the convention center first before going into the Toyota Center.
Tom McCasland, Houston’s housing and community development director, said Tuesday that the Toyota Center will serve as an overflow center for people still arriving Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
It will only serve families with children that don’t have pressing medical needs.
McCasland says more cots are on the way for thousands of people who didn’t have one Monday night. Some people slept on towels or strips of cardboard.
He says, ‘We fully expect to have everyone in a cot tonight.’
CNN REPORTER RESCUES MAN FROM TRUCK LIVE ON AIR
Reporter Drew Griffin saved a man whose truck was being carried down a ravine at frightening pace on Wednesday during a live cross with his network CNN.
The cameras were still rolling when Griffin and a crew members grabbed a rope and ran over to help the man identified as Jerry Sumrall of Winnie, Texas.
Afterwards, Sumrall said on air: ‘ I want to thank these guys for saving my life.’
Turner said Tuesday night that because Houston police have been spread thin due to ongoing water rescues and other efforts, 50 Texas National Guard members will be stationed at the convention center to provide security.
Houston officials opened a major shelter at NRG Park that can accommodate up to 10,000 evacuees.
Darian Ward, a spokeswoman for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, said the convention center adjacent to the city’s NFL stadium and the Astrodome opened at 10pm Tuesday.
Mayor Turner also said Tuesday the city has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for more supplies, including cots and food, for additional 10,000 people, which he hopes to get no later than Wednesday.
The mayor also issued an overnight curfew beginning on Tuesday night for an indefinite period amid incidents of looting, armed robberies and people impersonating police officers.
The curfew will run from 10pm until 5am and Houston is bringing additional police from other regions, Turner said in a news conference Tuesday evening.
‘You cannot drive, nor be in any public place. We have had problems with armed robberies, with people with guns and firearms,’ Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
Those who violate the curfew will be questioned, searched and arrested, Acevedo said.
The curfew comes after fourteen people were arrested for looting in the Houston area over the past 48 hours, as floodwaters from Harvey continue to devastate the region.
Officials said Tuesday night they have received disturbing reports of people impersonating Homeland Security special agents and telling residents to evacuate in order to rob their homes.
The city of Houston says people should ask anyone knocking on their doors for official badges and credentials with their name and organization. The city’s statement also notes that during Harvey relief efforts, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not conducting immigration enforcement operations in the area.
The city also says in a tweet in both English and Spanish that it is not checking the immigration status of anyone coming into shelters.
On Tuesday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards offered to take in Harvey victims from Texas.
Edwards said he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept the offer, which comes as Louisiana is also helping its own residents who were rescued from Harvey’s floodwaters overnight.
About 500 people were evacuated Monday night and early Tuesday from flooded neighborhoods in southwest Louisiana, and about 200 spent the night in area shelters, Edwards said.
Meteorologists have said Harvey will spend much of Wednesday dropping rain on Louisiana before moving on to Arkansas, Tennessee and parts of Missouri, which could also see flooding.
National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said that Houston would soon get a chance to dry out and that when the storm returns to land Wednesday, ‘it’s the end of the beginning’.
But Feltgen cautioned: ‘We’re not done with this. There’s still an awful lot of real estate and a lot of people who are going to feel the impacts of the storm.’
The National Weather Service predicted less of an inch of rain for Houston on Wednesday and only a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms for Thursday. Friday’s forecast called for mostly sunny skies with a high near 94.
President Donald Trump visited Texas on Tuesday, and the White House said his stops in Corpus Christi and Austin were meant to highlight coordination at all levels of government and lay the groundwork for what is expected to be a lengthy recovery after the storm.
Trump traveled with the secretaries of health and human services and housing and urban development, and the head of the Small Business Administration.
Airmen from the 125th Special Tactic Squadron and the 304th Rescue Squadron board a U.S. Air National Guard C-130 Hercules at Portland National Air Guard Air Base to take to Texas
National Guardsmen board a plane at Portland Air National Guard Base in Oregon to fly supplies to Texas
The president raised spirits as he addressed a crowd of fans at a firehouse in Corpus Christi, telling them: ‘This is historic, it’s epic, what happened, but you know what, it happened in Texas. Texas can handle anything.’
SINGAPORE ARMY LENDS HELICOPTERS TO HARVEY RESCUE EFFORTS
On Wednesday morning, Singapore’s defense ministry says as many as four of its military helicopters will start assisting in Tropical Storm Harvey relief efforts.
The CH-47 Chinook helicopters are stationed in Grand Prairie, Texas, as part of a decades-long partnership between the Republic of Singapore Air Force and Texas National Guard. Singaporean airmen who train there learn how to face large-scale emergencies.
The ministry says the helicopters will be able to airlift troops, evacuees and supplies in the relief effort.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the offer in a call with President Donald Trump late Tuesday. Both leaders are set to meet at the White House in October.
Singapore made a similar offer after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
He promised to take care of survivors and help with rescue efforts, saying: ‘We love you. You are special. We are here to take care of you.’
US lawmakers have already begun contemplating the massive rebuilding costs, leaving some Republicans in a tricky spot after they opposed federal aid when a storm devastated eastern states in 2012.
‘I believe we need to put an aid package together for $150 billion’ for emergency relief and recovery from Harvey, House Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee, whose Houston district remained largely underwater, told CNN
In Brazoria County, Texas, authorities posted a message on Twitter Tuesday morning warning that the levee at Columbia Lakes south of Houston had been breached and telling people to ‘GET OUT NOW!!’
Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta said residents were warned that the levee would be overtopped at some point, and a mandatory evacuation order was given Sunday.
The levee was later fortified, but officials said they did not know how long the work would hold.
Engineers began releasing water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs Monday to ease the strain on the dams. But the releases were not enough to relieve the pressure after one of the heaviest downpours in US history, Army Corps of Engineers officials said.
Both reservoirs are at record highs, with the Addicks even overspilled at 108ft.
The release of the water meant that more homes and streets will flood, and some homes will be inundated for up to a month, said Jeff Lindner of the Harris County Flood Control District.
The county is trying to determine where the water will go, Lindner said.
The bridge is on Woodforest Boulevard over Greens Bayou has collapsed and drinking water in Lake Forest is no longer safe due to a loss of water pressure.
Residents there must now boil water before drinking it and using it for cooking or brushing their teeth. Houston prisons were evacuated to save inmates from the floods. Six thousand prisoners have been bused to other correctional facilities across the state.
Anglo-Swiss chemicals firm Ineos Group Holdings SA said it has been forced to shut Chocolate Bayou Works and Battleground Manufacturing Complex. INEOS Nitriles’ Green Lake facility are following hurricane procedures and are temporarily shut down, spokesman Charles Saunders said.
Huntsman Corp said it has closed six chemical plants in Texas, along with its global headquarters and advanced technology center in Texas.
Although forecasters had feared that another two feet of rain could fall in some places, it appeared that the outlook had improved somewhat on Tuesday. The weather service said the amount of rain falling in the Houston area would be two to three inches, perhaps a little less in Houston proper, as the storm moved east.
But southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana still would see ‘relentless torrential rains’, with another six to 12 inches of rain across the upper Texas coast through Friday as Harvey continues to move slowly east over the Gulf of Mexico maintaining tropical storm force winds of 45mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
Highways around downtown Houston are empty as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from the bayous around the city Tuesday
Huge fundraising efforts are underway by the Red Cross. The New York Stock Exchange has donated $1million and Facebook has raised more than $1million as well.
The cost of the storm will extend beyond state lines. Experts at Goldman Sachs say it is likely to reduce GDP growth by 0.2per cent. Oil prices surged as supplies became suddenly precarious on Tuesday.
The full extent of the damage is not yet clear and won’t be for some time. For now, charities and volunteers are focusing on the immediate needs of the people who have been displaced.
Dallas is preparing super shelters for thousands of displaced residents. On Monday afternoon, military planes transported the first evacuees to the Lively Point Youth Center in Irving. The space has capacity for about 200 evacuees and the shelter will be run by the Red Cross and City of Irving employees.
Public health fears as diseases spread by flood water threaten Hurricane Harvey survivors
US public health officials warned Monday that flooding increases the risk of ills ranging from skin rashes to bacterial and viral infections and mosquito-borne disease.
The most immediate health risk is from drowning, especially for people trapped in vehicles, said Renee Funk, associate director for emergency management of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators is another threat.
‘Unfortunately, we expect there will be people who die from that and people will be poisoned from it,’ Funk said in a telephone interview.
But simply wading in floodwaters could cause skin rashes because so much of the water is contaminated with toxic chemicals that get washed out of people’s garages and tool sheds.
‘The number one thing we’re concerned with in a flood is chemicals,’ said Funk, who advises people to shower and wash their hands immediately after contact with floodwaters.
Mosquito-borne disease is less of an immediate threat because the floodwaters will wash out most mosquito breeding sites for disease-causing mosquitoes such Aedes aegypti, which spread Zika, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever, she said.
Floods typically cause a rise in nuisance mosquitoes, such as the Culex variety, and these, too, can carry disease.
A year after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, regions in Louisiana and Mississippi affected by the flood reported a doubling of cases of neuroinvasive West Nile virus – cases in which the virus caused severe inflammation in the brain or spinal cord, said Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
‘A year from now, we’ll have to look very closely at West Nile and other mosquito-borne viruses,’ said Hotez, who is riding out the storm from his Houston home while his lab at Baylor is closed.
In the immediate aftermath of Harvey, bacterial diseases are a concern, although cholera, a scourge in the wake of many natural disasters in developing countries, is likely not a worry in Houston, he said.
‘Bacterial infections are really important, such as salmonella and E. coli infections,’ Hotez said.
Shelters could also pose a public health risk, said Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
‘If you are in a small enclosed area in an alternate care facility and you have really bad diarrhea, it’s going to be hard in these situations to practice proper infection control.’
To donate to the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief fund, click here or call 1-800-435-7669.