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Houston convention center overflows with 9,000 survivors

Hurricane Harvey has dumped the most rain in American history as catastrophic scenes unfold in Houston with shelters overwhelmed with survivors, a curfew in place to prevent looting, dams overflowing and a chemical plant at risk of exploding. 

Many of the city’s evacuees are crammed into Houston’s convention center which is overcrowded with more than 9,000 evacuees – almost double what officials initially planned.

The George R Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, Texas, has a capacity of up to 5,000 people, but Monday night 9,021 people stayed in the center. The city plans on opening up two to three more shelters in the coming days.

More people continued to flock to the city’s overcrowded main shelter Tuesday as floodwaters kept rising after five consecutive days of rain that set a new continental US record for rainfall for a tropical system after five days of rain. 

In Cedar Bayou, Texas, rains reached 51.88inches Tuesday afternoon, the record for Texas and the continental US, but does not pass the record of 52inches of rain in Kauai, Hawaii in 1950 from Tropical Cyclone Hiki. That record was set before Hawaii became a state. 

The previous continental US record was 48inches set in 1978 in Medina, Texas, by Tropical Storm Amelia. A weather station southeast of Houston reported 49.32inches of rain as of Tuesday morning.

Evacuees escaping the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rest at the George R. Brown Convention Center that has been set up as a shelter in Houston, Texas, Tuesday

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 29:  People make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water following Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi August 25, has dumped nearly 50 inches of rain in and around Houston

HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 29: People make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water following Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi August 25, has dumped nearly 50 inches of rain in and around Houston

A home is surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, 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 ó a forecast with less than an inch of rain and even a chance for sunshine

A home is surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, 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 ó a forecast with less than an inch of rain and even a chance for sunshine

A boat navigates through floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, 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 ó a forecast with less than an inch of rain and even a chance for sunshine

A boat navigates through floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, 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 ó a forecast with less than an inch of rain and even a chance for sunshine

Interstate 10 is closed due to floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday

Interstate 10 is closed due to floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday

A boat travels along Interstate 10 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey cover a portion of the highway Tuesday

A boat travels along Interstate 10 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey cover a portion of the highway Tuesday

Evacuees wait to be processed into the George R. Brown Convention Center where people have taken refuge, in Houston, Texas

Evacuees wait to be processed into the George R. Brown Convention Center where people have taken refuge, in Houston, Texas

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 Loder in her second day of volunteering

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 Loder 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 August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
Rescue teams in boats, trucks and helicopters scrambled Monday to reach hundreds of Texans marooned on flooded streets in and around the city of Houston before monster storm Harvey returns

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 August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas.Rescue teams in boats, trucks and helicopters scrambled Monday to reach hundreds of Texans marooned on flooded streets in and around the city of Houston before monster storm Harvey returns

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.

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.’

On Tuesday, televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Houston megachurch, a 16,000-seat former arena that was the longtime home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, as a shelter after social media critics slammed him for not offering to house people in need while Harvey swamps the city.

Volunteers and donors also lined up outside the Toyota Center, the downtown arena that is home to the Houston Rockets, in anticipation that it will be one of the new shelters.

While details of the new shelters were expected later Tuesday, Charles Maltbie, a Red Cross shelter manager, said volunteers have done a ‘preliminary walk through’ of the Toyota Center and are working to configure it for evacuees.

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 in Houston, Texas, Tuesday

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 in Houston, Texas, Tuesday

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 in Houston, Texas, Tuesday

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 in Houston, Texas, 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 on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in areas of Texas over the next couple of days

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 on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in areas of Texas over the next couple of days

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 in Houston on Tuesday

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 in Houston on Tuesday

People line up for food as others 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 in Houston, Texas, Tuesday

People line up for food as others 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 in Houston, Texas, Tuesday

Mayor Turner also said 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.

And 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.

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.

An evacuee is patted down as he is processed into the George R. Brown Convention Center where people have taken refuge, in Houston, Texas

An evacuee is patted down as he is processed into the George R. Brown Convention Center where people have taken refuge, in Houston, Texas

People take shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center after flood waters from Hurricane Harvey inundated the city on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The evacuation center which is overcapacity has already received more than 9,000 evacuees with more arriving

People take shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center after flood waters from Hurricane Harvey inundated the city on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The evacuation center which is overcapacity has already received more than 9,000 evacuees with more arriving

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 on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The evacuation center which is overcapacity has already received more than 9,000 evacuees with more arriving

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 on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The evacuation center which is overcapacity has already received more than 9,000 evacuees with more arriving

Volunteers with The American Red Cross register evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center after Hurricane Harvey inundated the Texas Gulf coast with rain causing widespread flooding, in Houston, Texas

Volunteers with The American Red Cross register evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center after Hurricane Harvey inundated the Texas Gulf coast with rain causing widespread flooding, in Houston, Texas

Robert Salgado, 2, sleeps on the floor at the George R. Brown Convention Center that has been set up as a shelter for evacuees escaping the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston

Robert Salgado, 2, sleeps on the floor at the George R. Brown Convention Center that has been set up as a shelter for evacuees escaping the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston

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

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

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.

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.

The county is trying to determine where the water will go, Lindner said.

Although forecasters had feared that another two feet 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, probably in southwestern Louisiana.

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

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

A boat travels along Interstate 10 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey cover a portion of the highway Tuesday

A boat travels along Interstate 10 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey cover a portion of the highway Tuesday

Highways around downtown Houston are empty as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from the bayous around the city Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston

Highways around downtown Houston are empty as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from the bayous around the city Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Houston

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.

More than four days after the storm ravaged the Texas coastline as a Category 4 hurricane, authorities had confirmed only four deaths – including a woman killed Monday when heavy rains dislodged a large oak tree onto her trailer home in the small town of Porter. But unconfirmed reports of others missing or presumed dead were growing.

‘We know in these kinds of events that, sadly, the death toll goes up historically,’ Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told The Associated Press. ‘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.

Houston emergency officials could not confirm the deaths.

Rescue efforts are ongoing in Texas where floods continue to wreak havoc on Houston and where almost 20,000 are taking shelter in refuges 

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 

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 

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 

Erik Peterson and his son Carlos are evacuated on a raft from their home near the Addicks Reservoir 

Erik Peterson and his son Carlos are evacuated on a raft from their home near the Addicks Reservoir 

A spokeswoman for a Houston hotel said one of its employees disappeared while helping about 100 guests and workers evacuate the building.

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. 

Foreboding images of Harvey lit up weather radar screens early Tuesday, the 12th anniversary of the day Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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