Houston Trying To Save Some Areas
HOUSTON (AP) — Officials in Houston sought Friday to safeguard parts of their devastated city by keeping others flooded in the wake of Harvey, which retained enough rain-making power to raise the risk of flooding in the middle of the country a week after it slammed into Texas.
The mayor announced that ongoing releases of water from two reservoirs could keep thousands of homes flooded for up to 15 days and told residents that if they stayed and later needed help, first responders’ resources could be further strained.
In another Texas city with no drinking water, people waited in a line that stretched for more than a mile to get bottled water. And a new fire erupted Friday evening at a crippled Houston-area chemical plant that was the scene of an earlier explosion and fire.
Residents of the still-flooded western part of Houston were asked to evacuate due to the releases from two reservoirs protecting downtown. The ongoing releases were expected to keep flooded homes that had been filled with water earlier in the week. Homes that are not currently flooded probably will not be affected, officials said.
It could take three months for the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, which are normally dry, to drain. The Harris County Flood Control District said the water releases had to continue to protect the reservoirs’ structural integrity and in case more heavy rain falls.
Some of the affected houses have several feet (meters) of water in them, and the water reaches to the rooftops of others, district meteorologist Jeff Lindner said.
Mayor Sylvester Turner pleaded for more high-water vehicles and more search-and-rescue equipment as the nation’s fourth-largest city continued looking for any survivors or corpses that might have somehow escaped notice in flood-ravaged neighborhoods.
Search teams quickly worked their way down streets, sometimes not even knocking on doors if there were obvious signs that all was well — organized debris piles or full cans of trash on the curb, for instance, or neighbors confirming that the residents had evacuated.
Authorities considered it an initial search, though they did not say what subsequent searches would entail or when they would commence.
Turner also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide more workers to process applications from thousands of people seeking government help. The mayor said he will request a preliminary aid package of $75 million for debris removal alone.
The storm had lost most of its tropical characteristics but remained a source of heavy rain that threatened to cause flooding as far north as Indiana.
By Friday evening, Harvey had dumped more than 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain in parts of Arkansas and Tennessee and more than 8 inches (20 centimeters) in spots in Alabama and Kentucky. Its remnants were expected to generate another 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 8 centimeters) over parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
National Weather Service meteorologists expect Harvey to break up and merge with other weather systems over the Ohio Valley late Saturday or Sunday.
More than 1,500 people were staying at shelters in Louisiana, and that number included people from communities in Texas.