People wade through floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey
Houston: Rescuers answered thousands of desperate calls for help yesterday as floodwaters from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey rose high enough to begin filling two-storey homes, and authorities urged stranded families to seek refuge on rooftops.
Harvey came ashore late Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years and has killed at least two people. The death toll is expected to rise as the storm lashes the US state for days, triggering more floods, tidal surges and tornadoes.
Harvey is forecast to arc slowly towards Houston through Wednesday. The centre of the storm is still 201.17 km southwest of the fourth most populous city in the United States.
Motorhome lies flipped on it’s side near Victoria, Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
A fleet of helicopters, airboats and high-water vehicles confronted flooding so widespread that authorities had trouble pinpointing the worst areas. Rescuers got too many calls to respond to each one and had to prioritise life-and-death situations.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez used Twitter to field calls for assistance for those trapped inside homes, attics and vehicles. Among those seeking help was a woman who posted: “I have 2 children with me and the water is swallowing us up.”
People push disabled car in aftermath
People used inflatable beach toys, rubber rafts and even air mattresses to get through the rising waters to higher ground. Others simply waded while carrying plastic trash bags stuffed with their belongings.
Officials urged people not to crawl into attics but to get on top of them. The Coast Guard suggested they wave sheets or towels to draw attention to themselves.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said authorities had received more than 2,000 calls for help and would be opening the city’s main convention centre as a shelter. He urged drivers to stay off flooded roads to avoid adding to the number of stranded people.