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Weather Service: 'Catastrophic, Unprecedented' Flooding in Texas

  • VOA News

A home damaged by Hurricane Harvey remains surrounded by flood waters, Aug. 26, 2017, in Rockport, Texas.

The mayor of Houston called on residents to "do their part" to ensure minimal loss of life in southeastern Texas as tropical storm Harvey caused unprecedented floods.

"People are wanting the assistance right now, they’re dialing 911 and sometimes are frustrated they can’t get through, I understand that. But what I will say to you is that if we all work together – first responders, neighbors, good samaritans out there – the additional resources are being made available and are being deployed as we speak in different quadrants of the city," Sylvester Turner told a press briefing Sunday. "If we remain calm, and if everybody does his or her part, we will get through this with minimum loss of life, and this city will get right back on track and we’ll move right forward."

IN PICTURES: Unprecedented Rains in Southeastern Texas

Turner said that over 2,000 calls asking for help in had been received as of Sunday. He also detailed a number of additional resources - including opening up community centers to be used as shelter and adding 40 more boats to rescue operations.

Turner also echoed police warnings to residents to go to their roofs, and not their attics should their homes begin flooding.

The National Weather Service in Houston called the flooding in the region "catastrophic, unprecedented, and life threatening" Sunday and warned that it could continue into next week.

At least two people died over the weekend as flooding and tornadoes presented continuing danger for the residents of southeastern Texas.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that at least seven tornadoes have touched down in the Houston area since Friday evening.

"It's impossible not to feel overwhelmed," VOA's Celia Mendoza said Sunday from Houston.

Celia Mendoza's Video Report From Houston

“Everything is closed," she said. "People are concerned about what is happening to them — to their neighbors, they’re concerned about their homes," she said, noting that many people were stuck where they work and trying to keep in touch with their families at home.

Casualties

In addition to the two fatalities, Harvey injured at least 14 people. In the area between Corpus Christi and Houston, many people feared that toll was only the beginning. Texas officials say they expect to find further victims, however, as the storm moves inland.

"This is a situation that Houstonions have dealt with before, but this is one of the worst if not the worst that Houston has suffered," Texas governor Greg Abbott said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, adding that rescuing as many people as possible is "our top goal".

Speaking on CNN Sunday, FEMA administrator Brock Long said that the federal emergency services is "going to be there for years", calling this disaster a "landmark event".

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Sunday to say that "great coordination" between multiple agencies has enabled thousands of victims to be rescued.

Trump also tweeted that he plans to visit the destruction in Texas "as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption."

Torrential rains

Harvey, the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade, with winds of 209 kph at the time of landfall, has already dumped more than 50 centimeters of rain in some places and is predicted to move through a 600-kilometer-wide swath of the Texas coast.

The storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in southeast Texas, near the small town of Rockport not far from the city of Corpus Christi, slamming the state's Gulf Coast with strong winds and heavy rain over hundreds of kilometers of coastline. Since then it has gradually weakened.

Tens of thousands of Texas residents have fled inland to avoid wind and flooding from the threatening storm.

Governor Abbott said more than 1,000 state personnel have been assigned to search-and-rescue operations and they’ve already made several rescues, hoisting people into helicopters to avoid floodwaters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is readying supplies and search and rescue teams at its regional coordination center in Denton, Texas to send out as soon as conditions permit.

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