Hurricane Harvey death toll rises as Texas faces historic flooding
As coastal Texas cleaned up from Hurricane Harvey and recovery efforts continued, the storm shifted its attention to Houston, bringing intense rainfall that threatened "historic" flooding as freeways turned into rivers and water rushed into homes.
Amid predictions that as much as 50 inches of rain could fall, the water rose so high that people were advised to climb to their roofs rather than take refuge in attics, unless they had "an axe or means to break through".
Heavy rains were predicted to linger for several days. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency warning and said "catastrophic flooding in the Houston metropolitan area is expected to worsen and could become historic".
Cars were abandoned as stranded residents tweeted rescue requests to Ed Gonzalez, the Harris County sheriff.
Several deaths were reported. Gonzalez reported on Twitter that a woman and child had died in a submerged vehicle on Interstate 10 - the deaths were not confirmed, because the location was unreachable. Texas governor Greg Abbott told CBS he was "not capable at this time of confirming" the number of fatalities caused by the hurricane.
FLOOD OF EMERGENCY CALLS
At press conference yesterday, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said more than 2,000 emergency calls had been received and more shelters, which he called "lily pads", would be opening.
President Donald Trump tweeted his thoughts from Camp David. He would visit Texas, he wrote, "as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety".
Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast on Friday night as a Category four hurricane with 130mph winds, the most powerful to hit the US since 2004, and wrought destruction on Corpus Christi and the small towns of Rockport and Port Aransas. At least one person died in Rockport and more than 300,000 lost power.
Harvey weakened to a Category one, then tropical storm status. But rotating bands of rain began to pummel the Houston area, some 200 miles northeast.