Houston braces for more flooding in wake of storms

More severe flooding is feared in Houston, Texas, after heavy rains led to crews rescuing hundreds of people from their homes.

A flood watch remains in effect until Sunday afternoon as forecasters predicted additional rainfall on Saturday night, bringing another 1-3in of water to the soaked region and the likelihood of major flooding.

Friday’s fierce storms forced numerous high-water rescues, including some from the rooftops of flooded homes.

Heavy rains have brought flooding to Houston (Houston Chronicle via AP)

“This threat is ongoing and it’s going to get worse. It is not your typical river flood,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in the nation’s third-largest county.

She described the predicted surge of water as “catastrophic”. Schools in the path of the flooding cancelled classes and roads jammed as authorities closed highways taking on water.

For weeks, drenching rains in Texas and parts of Louisiana have filled reservoirs and saturated the ground. Floodwaters partially submerged cars and roads this week across parts of south-eastern Texas, north of Houston, where high waters reached the roofs of some homes.

More than 11in of rain fell during a 24-hour period that ended on Friday morning in the northern Houston suburb of Spring, according to the US National Weather Service.

The Harris County Joint Information Centre told KPRC-TV that 196 people and 108 animals have been rescued by emergency response agencies in Harris County.

People rescued by boat
People have been evacuated by boat from their homes (Houston Chronicle via AP)

“We estimate we’ve had a couple hundred rescues from homes, from houses, from vehicles,” he said.

In Polk County, located about 100 miles north-east of Houston, officials have done over 100 water rescues in the past few days, said Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Courtney Comstock.

She said homes below Lake Livingston Dam and along the Trinity River have flooded.

A man and his dog
Tim McCanon sits on the road with his dogs after being rescued by the Community Fire Department during severe flooding in New Caney, Texas (Houston Chronicle via AP)

Authorities in Houston had not reported any deaths or injuries. The city of more than two million people is one of the most flood-prone metro areas in the country and has long experience dealing with devastating weather.

Hurricane Harvey in 2017 dumped historic rainfall on the area, flooding thousands of homes and resulting in more than 60,000 rescues by government rescue personnel across Harris County.

Of particular concern was an area along the San Jacinto River in the north-eastern part of Harris County, which was expected to continue rising as more rain falls and officials release extra water from an already full reservoir. On Thursday, Judge Hidalgo issued a mandatory evacuation order for those living along portions of the river.

A child is rescued
A child in a car seat is taken out of a boat as residents are evacuated by boat from their homes by Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office deputies (Houston Chronicle via AP)

Houston Mayor John Whitmire said rising flood waters from the San Jacinto River were expected to have an impact on Kingwood late on Friday and into Saturday.

Shelters have opened across the region, including nine by the American Red Cross.

The weather service reported the river was above 75ft on Saturday morning after reaching nearly 78ft. The river is expected to fall below flood stage of 58ft on Tuesday afternoon and continue falling to about 50ft on Wednesday.

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