As thousands of Houston residents tried to stay above rising floodwaters Sunday, the city’s mayor defended his decision not to issue evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Harvey.
Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city, is incredibly susceptible to flooding and since Thursday some parts of the city have already received 25 inches of rain and some suburbs have gotten 27 inches.
The National Weather Service issued a forecast saying the city could get as much as 50 inches, which would be the highest amount ever recorded in Texas.
However, as emergency services received thousands of calls for help, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner defended his decision not to evacuate the city.
Thousands of Houston residents were sent scrambling to stay above rising floodwaters Sunday. Pictured: Jesus Rodriguez rescues Gloria Garcia after rain from Hurricane Harvey flooded Pearland, on the outskirts of Houston
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (pictured Sunday) defended his decision not to evacuate the city in a press conference Sunday. He said: ‘If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare. Especially when it’s not planned’
‘You cannot in the city of Houston put 2.3million people on the road,’ Turner said in a press conference Sunday.
‘That is dangerous. When you combine Houston and Harris County, you literally cannot put 6.5million people on the road.
‘If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare. Especially when it’s not planned.’
He cited Houston’s attempts to evacuate in 2005 for Hurricane Rita when about 2.5million people tried to get out of Houston, which caused traffic jams and left 100 people dead.
‘In this particular case, the hurricane, we were not in the direct line,’ Turner said, according to Buzzfeed.
‘It is true we anticipated a lot of rain, a lot of rain. But the best place for people to be is in their homes.’
People walk among stalled cars in a Houston neighborhood flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey on Sunday. Turner said that authorities have received more than 2,000 calls for help with more coming in
Naomi Coto carries Simba on her shoulders as they evacuate their Houston home
Texas Governor Greg Abbott had urged people to flee from Harvey’s path, but on Sunday refused to point fingers despite conflicting advice with the mayor.
‘Now is not the time to second-guess the decisions that were made,’ Abbott said at a news conference in Austin.
‘What’s important is that everybody work together to ensure that we are going to, first, save lives and, second, help people across the state rebuild.’
Turner said Sunday that authorities have received more than 2,000 calls for help with more coming in.
He urged drivers to stay off the roads to avoid adding to the number of those stranded.
‘I don’t need to tell anyone this is a very, very serious and unprecedented storm. We have several hundred structural flooding reports. We expect that number to rise pretty dramatically.’
Rescuers had to give top priority to life-and-death situations, leaving many affected families to fend for themselves. And several hospitals in the Houston area were evacuated due to the rising waters.
‘The breadth and intensity of this rainfall is beyond anything experienced before,’ the National Weather Service said in a statement.
Students make their way across a flooded parking lot on the campus of Rice University after it was inundated with water
Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 50 inches of rain in areas of Texas over the next couple of days