Texas ravaged by worst hurricane in over 50 years
30,000 people expected to be placed in shelters temporarily; Trump to visit state today to survey damage
HOUSTON: Tropical Storm Harvey dumped more rain on Houston, swelling rivers to record levels and forcing federal engineers yesterday to release water from reservoirs in hopes of controlling the rushing currents, as the city faced worsening historic flooding in the coming days.
Harvey, the most powerful hurricane to strike Texas in more than 50 years, first hit land late on Friday and has killed at least two people.
It has since lingered around Texas' Gulf Coast, where it is forecast to remain for several more days, drenching parts of the region with a year's worth of rain in the span of a week.
Schools, airports and offices in the nation's fourth largest city were ordered shut yesterday as scores of roads turned into rivers and chest-high water filled neighbourhoods in the low-lying city that is home to about 2.3 million people.
The area's vital petrochemcial industry was also crippled.
Torrential rain also hit areas more than 240km away, swelling rivers upstream and causing a surge that was heading towards the Houston area, where numerous rivers and streams already have been breached.
More flooding was expected as water levels continued to rise, putting more residents at risk.More than 30,000 people were expected to be placed temporarily in shelters, Fema administrator Brock Long said at a news conference yesterday.
The National Weather Service said the worst of floods were expected tomorrow and Thursday, although there is still uncertainty over the storm's path.
The US Army Corps of Engineers said it was releasing water from two nearby reservoirs into Buffalo Bayou, the primary body of water running through Houston.
"If we don't begin releasing now, the volume of uncontrolled water around the dams will be higher and have a greater impact on the surrounding communities," said Colonel Lars Zetterstrom, Galveston district commander of the Corps.
The Harris County Flood Control District said it expected the release to start flooding homes around the Addicks and Barker reservoirs.
Harvey is expected to produce an additional 38 to 63 cm of rain through Friday in the upper Texas coast and into south-western Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.
US President Donald Trump plans to go to Texas today to survey the storm damage, a White House spokesman said.
Yesterday, he approved an emergency declaration for Louisiana.
Mr Trump, facing the first big US natural disaster since he took office in January, had signed a disaster proclamation for Texas on Friday, triggering federal relief efforts. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday he planned to add 1,000 more National Guard personnel to the flood battle.
Almost half of the US refining capacity is in the Gulf region. Shutdowns extended across the coast, including Exxon Mobil's Baytown refinery.
More than 2.3 million barrels of capacity were offline as of yesterday morning, representing 13 per cent of daily US production. - REUTERS