Rescue shelters flooded in Houston overnight, filling up with water as displaced Texans who had already fled their homes cowered in cots.
At the Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur, evacuees were forced to wait in the bleachers as water washed over the floor and sent their cot beds and chairs floating.
They were taken to Carl Parker Center at Lamar State College where they now join hundreds of others who have been displaced. It is not clear how many people were in the first shelter when the floods crept in on Tuesday night.
More than 20,000 people are in bursting shelters across the state as floods continue to swamp the city after the heaviest rainfall in US history. Countless more are taking cover in the homes of friends and family whose houses are, for now, safe from the floods.
The water continues to rise, sparking electrical fires in abandoned homes and threatening to drown anyone who has been unable to escape.
At least 30 people have been confirmed dead but that number is likely to rocket as the waters recede and emergency services begin recovering victims once the rain stops.
The storm made landfall in Texas on Friday and ravaged the southeast coast before moving back off shore where it has thundered on for days.
It is expected to make landfall again on Wednesday, bringing 10 inches of rain to Louisiana where preparations have been underway for days in anticipation of the deadly storm.
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
As rescue teams and volunteers continue rescuing stranded residents from the waters
- There are 20,000 people in shelters across the state with another 10,000 expected to become displaced
- The NRG stadium which hosted this year’s Superbowl has opened its doors to house the needy
- 30 people are confirmed dead but the official death toll is feared to be significantly higher
- Dams in Houston have failed and water plants are swamped, making drinking water across some counties unsafe
- A midnight to 5am curfew is in place to stop looters and other opportunistic criminals
- Louisiana is bracing for 10 inches of rain as Harvey barrels along the coast before landing at midday
Police painted a grave picture of the devastation on Tuesday as they fathomed how many had died.
‘We know in these kinds of events that, sadly, the death toll goes up historically,’ Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
‘I’m really worried about how many bodies we’re going to find.’
One Houston woman said Monday that she presumes six members of a family, including four of her grandchildren, died after their van sank into Greens Bayou in East Houston.
Virginia Saldivar told The Associated Press her brother-in-law was driving the van Sunday when a strong current took the vehicle over a bridge and into the bayou. The driver was able to get out and urged the children to escape through the back door, Saldivar said, but they could not.
‘I’m just hoping we find the bodies,’ Saldivar said.
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.
Churches across the city have opened their doors to displaced residents as have mosques and concert arenas. 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.
A home in Spring, Texas, was both drowned and burned on Wednesday morning after the flooding from Hurricane Harvey sparked a fire inside
Another home in Houston, Texas, was entirely surrounded by water on Tuesday as the floods continued to rise
A shocking before and after comparison shows the I-1O west of Beaumont on an ordinary day and how it now stands thanks to Harvey
An aerial view of homes in Spring, Texas, show the drastic flooding across the district on Tuesday
Interstate 69 was almost entirely underwater on Tuesday in Humble, Texas, as a result of the floods
The George R Brown Convention Center (pictured) in downtown Houston, Texas, has a capacity of up to 5,000 people, but Monday night 9,021 people stayed in the center, which was opened as the city’s main shelter for flood evacuees. According to Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, there are currently about 20,000 Hurricane Harvey evacuees total in shelters
Though the military has been limited in its ability to help in rescue and recovery efforts because of weather and flooding, Air Force Major General James Witham said up to 30,000 National Guard troops could be called on to help in Texas. Rescue helicopters are pictured landing on the Eastex Freeway in Houston on Tuesday
People make their way out of a flooded neighborhood in Houston
A home is surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday in Houston. With its flood defenses strained, the crippled city of Houston anxiously watched dams and levees Tuesday to see if they would hold until the rain stops and meteorologists offered the first reason for hope of a forecast with less than an inch of rain and even a chance for sunshine
As waters continue to rise, public health officials are warning that flooding increases the risk of ills ranging from skin rashes to bacterial and viral infections and mosquito-borne disease. Pictured: A boat navigates through floodwaters in Houston
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.
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.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday the Houston Police Department has rescued more than 3,500 people from flooding and Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said the city fire department had rescued more than 400. Pictured: Interstate 10 is closed due to floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday
Air Force Major General Witham, the director of dometic 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.
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.
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.’
Lt Mike Hart said Monday that the Coast Guard has been receiving more than 1,000 calls an hour, adding that Monday alone, they rescued more than 3,000 people. Pictured: Interstate 10 in Houston is covered with floodwaters
A boat travels along Interstate 10 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey cover a portion of the highway Tuesday
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.
EXPERTS WARN HARVEY IS WORSE THAN KATRINA
Michael Brown, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Hurricane Harvey would bring more devastation to Texas than the historic Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In an interview with The Houston Chronicle, Brown explained that the scope of the flooding in Houston – where up to 49 inches of rain has fallen – is considerably worse than was seen in New Orleans and other towns in Louisiana after Katrina.
‘There are several factors that make it worse than Katrina. For one there is the scope of the flooding. Harris County and the surrounding areas are so saturated.
‘Also, the amount of damages will continue to grow. There will be mold and structural damages adding up.’
1,833 people died as a result of Katrina. More than 273,000 people were in shelters and more than 1million are thought to have lost their homes.
The full extent of the damage caused by Harvey is not yet clear. On Tuesday, there were 17,000 in shelters and more were being rescued by the minute.
Eighty-percent of New Orleans flooded as a result of the storm as levees failed. On Tuesday, the first levee in Texas was breached as the flood waters rose.
New Orleans is bracing itself to be pounded by Harvey which is scheduled to make landfall in Louisiana on Wednesday.
Televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Houston megachurch, a 16,000-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, told The Associated Press 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.’
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.
vacuees take shelter from Tropical Storm Harvey in the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday
Evacuees line up to apply for FEMA aid at the Convention Center which is housing people from flooded homes after Hurricane Harvey caused heavy flooding in Houston, Texas
Harvey has set what forecasters believe is a new rainfall record for the continental United States, officials said Tuesday
Harvey, swirling for the past few days off Texas and Louisiana has dumped more than 49 inches (124.5 centimeters) of rain on the region
A woman in a wheelchair carries a child on her lap as she arrives at the Convention Center which is housing people from flooded homes after Hurricane Harvey caused heavy flooding in Houston
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.
People walk outside the Houston Convention Center which is housing evacuees from flooded homes after Hurricane Harvey caused heavy flooding
A woman and her child check into the Convention Center on Tuesday
Evacuees line up to apply for FEMA aid at the Convention Center which is housing people from flooded homes
A family prepares to sleep at Houston’s Convention Center on Tuesday night
A man sleeps outside the Convention Center on Tuesday. As Houston’s main hurricane shelter, the center was overcrowded with more than 9,000 evacuees
Evacuee Teddy Gifford, 90, waits for a medical evaluation with first responder Veronica Garza at the Lakewood Church in Houston Tuesday. Joel Olsteen and his congregation have set up their church as a shelter for evacuees from the flooding by Tropical Storm Harvey
Evacuees wait to be processed into the George R. Brown Convention Center where thousands have taken refuge, in Houston
Volunteers separate donated clothing from a huge pile at the George R. Brown Convention Center. ‘I’m so proud how everyone is coming together,’ said one woman in her second day of volunteering
People wait to be checked by police before entering a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on Tuesday
Evacuees fill up cots at the George Brown Convention Center that has been turned into a shelter run by the American Red Cross to house victims of the high water from Hurricane Harvey
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.’
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.’
‘This was of epic proportion. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this,’ said Trump before praising Texas Governor Greg Abbott as being ‘terrific’ in the face of catastrophe.
He commended the emergency services but said cautiously: ‘We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished.’
The day before, Abbott had visited some of the devastated areas before he gave an update on the aftermath of the storm in a press conference.
‘A Texas-sized storm requires a Texas-sized response, and that is exactly what the state will provide,’ he said Monday.
‘While we have suffered a great deal, the resiliency and bravery of Texan’s spirits is something that can never be broken. As communities are coming together in the aftermath of this storm, I will do everything in my power to make sure they have what they need to rebuild.’
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, estimates that 30,000 will be in need of shelter by the time the storm passes and there is already an estimated $40billion in damage. The agency also estimates that more than 450,000 people are likely to seek federal aid.
The organization has around $3billion in its disaster relief fund but the sum is dwindling.
The storm has also crippled the country’s oil trade, hampering 16per cent of the US’s refineries, which are in the danger zone.
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.
People rest at the George R Brown Convention Center that has been set up as a shelter for evacuees escaping the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey
People rest at the Houston convention center that has been set up as a shelter for evacuees escaping the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday
As the Houston convention center fills beyond capacity, the city plans on opening up two or three more mega-shelters in the coming days
Malachia Medrano, 2, sleeps at the George R Brown Convention Center that has been set up as a shelter for evacuees escaping the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey
Flooding has damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, crippled infrastructure, washed away businesses and left the economic future of the region under a cloud.
Just how heavy a financial toll the storm will take on the southern US economy was unclear Tuesday, as the focus remained on rescue operations, many of them being carried out in the hard-hit Houston area.
But the storm, which on Tuesday was tilting toward neighboring Louisiana, has the potential to be one of the costliest natural disasters in US history, and lawmakers have already broached the subject of recovery funding.
‘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.
That staggering amount is 2.5 times the funding approved by Congress and allocated by the federal government following superstorm Sandy, which caused widespread devastation in eastern states including New York, New Jersey and Maryland when it struck in October 2012.
Despite the clear need for federal government intervention after that storm, 179 Republican lawmakers — including 23 of Texas’s 24 House members — opposed the Sandy Relief Act.
The snub appalled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who at the time savaged his fellow Republicans as ‘absolutely disgraceful.’
Their votes are suddenly back in the spotlight, as lawmakers still on their summer recess sniped across social media.
Republican Congressman Peter King of New York called out Senator Ted Cruz of Texas by name Monday in a stinging rebuke, saying he would vote for post-Harvey aid despite fellow Republicans opposing Sandy relief.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, speaks during a briefing on Harvey relief efforts, Tuesday at the the Texas Department of Public Safety Emergency Operations Center in Austin, Texas
President Trump waves a Texas flag as he visits communities in Corpus Christi on Tuesday
President Trump and Melania Trump left the White House on Tuesday morning in less practical outfits
‘NY wont abandon Texas,’ King tweeted. ‘1 bad turn doesnt deserve another.’
A New Jersey Democrat offered similar thoughts.
‘Despite my TX colleagues refusal to support aid in #SouthJersey time of need, I will support emergency disaster $ for those impacted,’ Congressman Frank LoBiondo said Monday on Twitter.
Cruz, a Tea Party hero and defender of fiscal austerity, insisted he opposed the Sandy bill because it contained excessive ‘pork’ — targeted government spending that benefits a lawmaker’s constituents — unrelated to storm recovery.
‘Of course, the federal government has a critical role in disaster relief,’ Cruz said on CNN.
‘But you should not have members of Congress that are exploiting disasters to fund their pet projects, and so there will be time for all of those debates in Washington.’
One estimate, by Enki Research, already puts the Harvey damage at $42billion. But with the storm forecast to churn along the Gulf coast for at least two more days, that estimate could surge.
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 means 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.
Homes near the Addicks Reservoir where flood water continues to rise as a result of the overflowing dam
Homes near the Addicks Reservoir which overflowed on Tuesday, sending more water down towards Houston
Abandoned cars near the Addicks Reservoir on Tuesday where flood waters continue to rise
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.
Meanwhile, major Houston prisons have been evacuated to save inmates from the floods. Six thousand prisoners have been bused to other correctional facilities across the state.
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
On Tuesday, the owner of the chemical plant, Arkema SA, said in a statement the situation at its southeast Texas plant ‘has become serious’ and evacuated all of its staff from the facility in Crosby, Texas.
Crosby is about 25 miles northeast of Houston and in the 2010 US census had a population of 2,300 people.
‘As a protective measure Harris County has evacuated all residents within 1.5 miles of the Arkema facility,’ said a Twitter message from the Harris County Fire Marshal Office.
‘There is a potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire at the facility, which could produce a large amount of black smoke,’ the fire marshal, citing Arkema, said.
‘While we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real,’ the company said.
Arkema said the plant has been hit by more than 40 inches of rain, was heavily flooded and without electricity since Sunday. Back-up generators have largely been swamped.
Maintaining refrigeration for chemicals that must be stored at low temperature is key, the company said. After losing generators, workers transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers.
But the floodwaters also compromised the back-up containers, and the company is monitoring temperature levels remotely, it said.
The Arkema plant in Crosby produces organic peroxides. It has been closed since Friday but had a skeletal staff of about a dozen in place. Other Texas chemical plants have also shuttered production because of the storm.
Mark Ocosta and his baby Aubrey Ocosta take shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center after flood waters from Hurricane Harvey inundated the city
People line up for food as others rest at the George R Brown Convention Center
An evacuee is patted down as he is processed into the Houston convention center where people are taking refuge
The evacuation center in Houston, which is overcapacity, has already received more than 9,000 evacuees with more arriving
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.
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.
Volunteers with The American Red Cross register evacuees at the crowded Houston convention center after Hurricane Harvey inundated the Texas Gulf coast with rain causing widespread flooding
Robert Salgado, 2, sleeps on the floor at the convention center that has been set up as a shelter for evacuees escaping the floodwaters
A police officer carries Jessica Lopez, left, and her brother Avelia Lopez to dry ground as people evacuate a neighborhood that was inundated after water was released from nearby Addicks Reservoir when it reached capacity due to Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday
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.
WHY HOUSTON IS PRONE TO FLOODS
Though the most severe, Hurricane Harvey’s floods are not the first to ever torture the city of Houston.
Less extreme flooding was seen in 2001 with Tropical Storm Allison, in 2015 on Memorial Day and on Tax Day last year.
The city is predominantly flat and sits little above sea level – 50 feet above in the center and 40 feet above in some downtown suburbs to be exact.
This makes it easier for water from heavy rainfall to gather on the ground.
When the bayous flood, the freeways act as an unofficial flood control system. Once water spills over them, it pours in to residential streets and rises from there.
‘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.’
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.
It is expected to make landfall again Wednesday morning, in southwestern Louisiana.
Calls for rescue have so overwhelmed emergency teams that they have had little time to search for bodies. And officials acknowledge that fatalities from Harvey could soar once the floodwaters start to recede from one of America’s most sprawling metropolitan centers.
Kathryn Loder of West University separates donated clothing from a huge pile at the George R Brown Convention Center. ‘I’m so proud how everyone is coming together,’ said Loder in her second day of volunteering
Highways around downtown Houston are empty as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from the bayous around the city Tuesday
Authorities in Houston did confirm Tuesday that a 60-year-old city police officer drowned in his patrol car after he became trapped in high water while driving to work. Sgt Steve Perez had been with the force for 34 years.
Sgt Steve Perez, 60, was driving to work in downtown Houston when he found himself trapped in torrents of water
A spokeswoman for a Houston hotel said one of its employees disappeared while helping about 100 guests and workers evacuate the building.
Beaumont police say a woman has died after she and her young daughter were swept into a rain-swollen drainage canal while trying to escape their stalled vehicle.
A police statement said the woman pulled her vehicle into an office park’s flooded parking lot about 3.35pm Tuesday, where it became stalled by high water. The woman then took her daughter, exited the car and was swept about a half-mile away.
Two Beaumont police officers and two fire-rescue divers in a rubber boat spotted the mother floating with the child, who was holding onto her mother. Officers pulled the child and the mother into the boat.
The child was responsive but suffering from hypothermia; the mother was unresponsive and efforts to revive her failed. The child is hospitalized in stable condition.
Harris County confirmed the storm-related death of 64-year-old Alexander Kwoksum Sung, who drowned at a clock repair business Sunday in Houston. He was found in more than a foot of debris on Monday.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences updated its storm-related deaths Tuesday night to include an 89-year-old woman, Agnes Stanley, who was found floating in four feet of floodwater in a home.
A 76-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was found floating in floodwater near a vehicle. A 45-year-old man, Travis Lynn Callihan, left his vehicle and fell into floodwaters. He was taken to a hospital, where he died Monday.
The disaster is unfolding on an epic scale, with the nation’s fourth-largest city mostly paralyzed by the storm that arrived as a Category 4 hurricane and then parked over the Gulf Coast. The Houston metro area covers about 10,000 square miles, an area slightly bigger than New Jersey.
Harvey kept drenching Houston and the surrounding area. Rain fell Tuesday at about half an inch per hour over Harris County – home to Houston – and up to two inches per hour to the east.
Forecasters expect the storm to linger over the Gulf before heading back inland east of Houston sometime Wednesday. The system will then head north and lose its tropical strength.
It could creep as far east as Mississippi by Thursday, meaning New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina unleashed its full wrath in 2005, is in Harvey’s path.
A family is driven out of a flooded neighborhood in Corpus Christi on Tuesday
81-year-old Ramona Bennett is carried by Texas Army National Guardsmen Sergio Esquivel (L) and Ernest Barmore (R) after being evacuated from her home in Pine Forest Village
A man is carried out of flood water in a rubber boat after being rescued by volunteers in Corpus Christi
Capt Martha Nigrelle of the US Army National Guard enjoys a chicken wing in the flood water while taking a break from saving stranded residents
Foreboding images of Harvey lit up weather radar screens early Tuesday, the 12th anniversary of the day Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish.
The impact of the storm on the lives of residents in the danger zone is unfathomable. Many have no idea of the extent of the damage in their homes and are now fearing the financial torment they may now face.
Mayor Turner pleaded for help from other cities and plugged charity relief funds to care for the thousands of Houston residents in crisis.
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.
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 $4.7million for Hurricane Harvey victims on aYouCaring page by Tuesday night.
Rescue efforts are ongoing in Texas where floods continue to wreak havoc on Houston and where almost 20,000 are taking shelter in refuges
Cars at a dealership in Houston float are almost entirely submerged in water as the flood levels continue to rise on Tuesday
An area near the Addicks Reservoir on Tuesday. Homes near the dam will be flooded for months as a result of a controlled release of its water which the US Army Corps of Engineers was forced to carry out on Monday to avoid the dam from failing
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.
The city’s emergency management coordinator said they are planning for the shelters to run ‘long term’. Evacuees and those working the shelters have and will be vetted through criminal background checks.
The City of Dallas is also planning to host more than 5,000 evacuees in a shelter at the convention center.
Over the weekend, Mayor Turner asked anyone with a boat to help with efforts. Many Texans responded bravely to his call to arms and were out in force on Saturday saving vulnerable neighbors and strangers from the floods.
‘The goal is rescue. That’s the major focus for the day. We want to focus on getting them out of their homes or whatever their stressful situation may be,’ he said.
Hospitals asked Monday for trained nurses to volunteer at their centers, which were overflowing with patients.
As Houston struggles with the storm’s aftermath, help from other states and cities is pouring in.
One Michigan-based company has donated 22,000 kayaks to help residents get around as the flood waters cease to drain.
On Monday night, 11 people had to be rescued after one private boat of volunteers capsized. They were all rescued by the Houston Fire Department and none have serious injuries.
Earlier this week, Mayor Turner came under fire for his decision not to evacuate Houston, but he said it would have caused more chaos to send millions of people on the roads without a well-organized evacuation plan.
And when the storm began on Friday, Houston was not immediately hit. It was safe from the battering winds which tore apart towns on the coast and many felt confident enough to remain in their homes.
However as the storm moved further inland on Saturday and Saturday, floods – the likes of which the city has never before seen – swept through.
A woman is wheeled in to a shelter on a stretcher in Houston after being evacuated from her home on Tuesday
Erik Peterson and his son Carlos are evacuated on a raft from their home near the Addicks Reservoir
The few grocery stores which opened were entirely pillaged on Tuesday as panicked residents stocked up in preparation for more disruption
The city woke up to a water world and many, with no alternative, swam to safety or climbed in to rescue boats.
Even in homes which are not flooded, residents are running out of food and water and some cannot safely make their way to grocery stores. Those who do make it there face snaking lines and empty shelves inside the stores.
And according to several utility companies, more than 280,000 people were without power on Monday.
Now, many are trapped in their homes with no way out. They have been left to wait for rescue boats but the situation is bleak.
With 911 operation centers inundated, panicked residents turned to social media to be saved.
They shared pictures of frightened children cowering on kitchen work tops as water covered the floors of their homes.
Oliver Simpson, 35, a father of four from west Houston, is stuck in his home with his children. He told DailyMail.com on Monday: ‘It’s horrible. I feel helpless – sitting with no power and just waiting to see what happens. And we have it so much better than many others.
‘I have a neighbor who had a tree fall on his garage, it went across a gas line. There is a gas leak and despite calls to 911 still no one been out. That was at 4am this morning.
‘To be clear, authorities are doing everything they can [there are] just many people in far worse situation than us.’
To donate to the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief fund, click here or call 1-800-435-7669.
FAMILY OF 6 ‘DROWNS IN THEIR VAN TRYING TO ESCAPE’
Six members of the same family died by drowning in their van as they tried to escape Harvey’s floods on Saturday, according to other members of the family.
KHOU reports that the victims – four children under the age of 16 and their grandparents – were traveling in a van being driven by their great uncle near Greens Bayou when they ran into trouble.
Six members of a family – including Xavier Saldivar (left), 8, and his sister Daisy (right), 6, as well as their siblings and great-grandparents – died in the Hurricane Harvey floods Monday
They had just crossed a bridge in Houston when their van was swept away by strong flood-water currents. Devy Saldivar (left), 16, and her brother Dominic (right), 14, also died
Their great-grandparents Manuel and Belia Saldivar (pictured), aged 81 and 83, respectively, also drowned. The driver – the children’s great-uncle – survived the accident
He was able to escape as water rushed in to the vehicle but the others could not and he watched as they perished in the water, other relatives said.
The official death toll on Saturday was two – meaning authorities have so far been able to confirm two deaths. They are inundated with crisis situations, however and are therefore redirecting attention to rescuing people who are trapped.
This makes it difficult to deliver an exact number but the total was reported as five on Sunday.