UPDATE: Reports now indicate at least five people have died in the Houston area as a result of the storm. Freeways are flooded as Hurricane Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm, hovers over the region. Federal officials called the situation “catastrophic, life-threatening flooding,” and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that the city’s 911 emergency number was “overwhelmed” with calls.
Earlier, reports claimed at least two people have died and massive flooding has occurred from Hurricane Harvey, which came ashore in Texas Friday and continues to pound the state’s coastal areas. There are reports of 25 inches of rain in some areas over the last 24 hours, plus winds of 45 miles per hour.
In Houston, the fourth most-populous city in the United States, flooding has made many roads impassable and bayous are threatening to breach. Alligators and snakes were being seen in residential areas as a result of the storm, further complicating rescue efforts and the lives of affected residents. There is no respite in sight – the storm is expected to last through Wednesday.
Rescue boats are traveling through Houston, but some residences are already experiencing flooding. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is advising residents to stay in their homes, but to head for their roofs if internal water becomes waist-deep. The Weather Channel is reporting there have been more than 2000 people rescued from rising water in Houston alone.
Sarah McMullen, a former publicist for Elton John and Roy Orbison, lives in the Meyerland area of Houston. She reports that the rain has been steady for the last six hours after a brief pause on Saturday night. The local Braes Bayou has been breached, she says.
“There are numerous helicopters overhead,” said McMullen. “All streets in the area are completely flooded. Meyerland is under severe tornado alert, so I am in the closet with my dog and a lantern and battery fan.”