Emergency workers used boats Friday to rescue about 60 residents of a Houston-area community still trapped in their homes by floodwaters following one of the wettest tropical cyclones in U.S. history.
At least four deaths have been linked to the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda, which deluged parts of Texas and Louisiana and drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago. Officials took advantage of receding floodwaters to begin assessing how many homes and cars were flooded.
Almost 16 feet of standing water was reported in Huffman, northeast of Houston, when a nearby bayou overflowed. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office deployed its marine unit to evacuate about 60 residents. Officials have warned residents high waters might not recede in their neighborhoods until the weekend.
East of Houston in Jefferson County, which got more than 40 inches of rain in 72 hours, officials also began taking stock of their damage. They also announced the death of Malcolm Foster, a 47-year-old Beaumont resident whose body was found inside his vehicle.
The heaviest rainfall had ended by Thursday night in Southeast Texas, but forecasters warned that parts of northeast Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana could see flash flooding as Imelda’s remnants shifted to the north.
Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said there had been at least 1,700 high-water rescues following Thursday’s torrential rainfall.
Most of the Houston-area roads that became water-logged after heavy rainfall Thursday and resulted in more than 1,650 vehicles being abandoned and later towed were mostly dry Friday.
But parts of one of the major thoroughfares that passes through Southeast Texas — Interstate 10 — remained closed Friday because of flood waters in the Beaumont area. Another freeway section, closer to Houston, was also shut down as officials assessed damage to its bridges over the San Jacinto River after they were hit by two barges that broke free of their moorings.
Nearly 123,000 vehicles normally cross the bridges each day, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Officials say two of the deaths from Imelda happened in the Houston area: an unidentified man in his 40s or 50s who drowned Thursday while driving a van through 8-foot-deep floodwaters, and a man whose body was found in a ditch Friday and is believed to have drowned.
In Jefferson County, besides Foster’s death, officials say a 19-year-old man drowned and was electrocuted Thursday while trying to move his horse to safety.
For many residents in Houston, Imelda’s punishing rainfall and flooding evoked the memory of Harvey, which dumped more than 50 inches (127 centimeters) of rain on the nation’s fourth-largest city in 2017. Imelda is the first named storm since then to impact the Houston area.
The flooding from Imelda came as Hurricane Humberto blew off rooftops and toppled trees in the British Atlantic island of Bermuda, and Hurricane Jerry was expected to move to the northern Leeward Islands on Friday and north of Puerto Rico on Saturday. In Mexico, people in Los Cabos just missed Hurricane Lorena’s arrival after the storm veered to the east.