Catastrophic flooding taking a toll on Houston

Houston Chronicle:
City officials urged people to call 911 only if they are in "imminent danger" as flood water in the Houston area continued to rise.

Tropical Storm Harvey hovered over Houston early Sunday and dumped 20 to 30 inches of rain on already saturated streets, killing at least five people and prompting evacuations of apartment complexes and dramatic rescues, according to the National Weather Service.

"It's catastrophic, unprecedented, epic -- whatever adjective you want to use," said Patrick Blood, a NWS meteorologist. "It's pretty horrible right now."

Across the region, rising waters pinned some into their homes or on rooftops, as low-lying areas turned into massive lakes and streams. Freeways in some parts were so deluged, water was lapping at overhead freeway signs.

The entire Texas Gulf coast is under a "catastrophic" flash flood emergency until 10:45 a.m.

The 12 counties under a flash flood emergency are the counties of Harris, eastern Wharton, Austin, southeastern Grimes, southeastern Washington, Galveston, southwestern Montgomery, Fort Bend, northern Brazoria, Waller and central Matagorda.

Rainfall totals for the past 12 hours topped 20 inches. And the forecast for the next few days remains dire, with computer models showing continued rounds of thunderstorms spawned by Harvey, which has been downgraded from a hurricane to tropical storm. Blood said the Houston area can expect at least an additional 15 to 25 inches over the next few days.

"I know for a fact this is the worst flood Houston has ever experienced," Blood said. "Worse than (tropical storm) Allison. It's so widespread."

Emergency workers are overwhelmed with calls for water rescues, having responded to "hundreds" as of early Sunday. Houston police officials also evacuated two apartment complexes in Greenspoint, rescuing more than 50 children from rising flood waters overnight.

"It breaks your heart," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said via a livestream on Twitter, as he stood in waist-high water in north Houston. "But, it's Texas, we'll get through it."

Houston TranStar listed 181 high-water locations on the roads, which were lined with stalled and stranded motorists. Hobby Airport closed because of flooding. Metropolitan Transit Authority suspended all service. Harris County Toll Road Authority ceased tolling, so those forced to avoid high water could use the tollways.

Dozens of exits were closed along freeways and tollways, cutting off many neighborhoods, which were dealing with their own isolated, rising waters.
In Washington County where I live there has been persistent rainfall some of it extremely heavy for more than 24 hours.  The rain continues to fall as of the time of this post.

This radar screen capture shows that the worst is not over and will continue through at least one or more days. So far the power has not been a problem in this part of the state, but many areas are without power. Roads in Houston are already cut off in many locations and I expect there are some in this area that are blocked by rising creeks. Most of the drainage feeds into the Brazos River which is roughly six miles from my house. But the high tides along the Gulf caused by the hurricane will make the drainage slow.


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