Members of the Texas Army National Guard rescue Houston residents on Sunday. (Texas Army National Guard)
WASHINGTON – Harvey, now a tropical storm, has killed at least five people in Texas, and the death toll is likely to rise, authorities said.
Houston has been hit particularly hard. Much of America’s fourth-largest city has received more than 25 inches of rain in two days, and another 25 inches could fall by Saturday. Damages to the state could exceed $2 billion.
Many Houston residents have turned to social media with heartbreaking pleas for help as overwhelmed authorities desperately try to rescue people.
Authorities in Houston said at a news conference Monday morning that 2,000 people have been rescued but hundreds more need help. Mayor Sylvester Turner, who did not order evacuations, said the goal is to get everyone rescued by the end of the day.
The Houston Police Department said it has received more than 6,000 calls for help and is asking for assistance from any civilians who have boats.
The Houston Fire Department has responded to 5,500 calls, most of them water-related, a spokesperson said in a news conference Monday morning.
Mayor Turner said 5,500 people are in shelters throughout Houston, as of mid-morning Monday. More than 2,500 people have taken shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown and more than 5,000 are in coastal shelters, MaryJane Mudd, spokesperson for American Red Cross, said Monday morning.
Dallas is opening a “mega-shelter” capable of accommodating 5,000 evacuees at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center by Tuesday morning.
About 30,000 people in total are expected to seek shelter in Texas, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said.
An additional 1,000 National Guard members are being called in to help flood victims in Houston, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said via Twitter Sunday evening.
Areas in Texas are expected to receive an additional 15-25 inches of rain this week. Experts said the aftermath of Harvey could equal the level of destruction of Katrina in 2005.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Monday morning issued a federal emergency declaration for five parishes in Louisiana as heavy rains from Harvey in the southwestern part of the state sparked fears of flooding. A White House statement said the action authorizes FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts.
The article was reprinted with permission from Talk Media News.
Regina Holmes has more than two decades of experience as a journalist –editing and reporting for news dailies including the Miami Herald, Newsday and the Baltimore Examiner.