Rain poured down upon the ground in Houston, Texas, giving rise not only to the water level but to the number of people who have died as well. The Weather Channel reported at least six people have lost their lives and there have been approximately 1,200 high-water rescues. Governor Greg Abbott has declared nine counties in and around the Houston area in a state of disaster.
It is reported that over 17 inches of rain fell in one day in parts of the city, and at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport up to 4 inches of rain fell per hour. It is estimated that 240-billion gallons of rain fell in the Houston area so far. To give an example of how much water that is, the amount would easily fill 363,400 Olympic-size swimming pools. That is a lot of moisture to come down in one area and with the ground heavily saturated, the water can only start to rise and flood the area.
Janice Evans, spokesperson for Houston’s mayor said the city is not going to wait for the rain to stop before they start to clean their city up. They are in the planning stages now to begin cleanup as soon as the rainfall becomes lighter.
“City already putting together debris collection schedules,” Janice Evans tweeted.
This storm has been one of the worst since Tropical Storm Allison came through the area in 2001. Currently, the storm took out the power to at least 250,000 people and although the CenterPoint Energy crews have restored power to many homes, they still have 20,000 more homes to go.
Although the number of deaths is low, most of them could have been prevented. The five people who passed away tried to drive across flooded roads and their vehicles were swept away or stalled out. No matter how many times the warning is issued to not drive across a flooded road, people still do not realize just how deep the water could be and how swift the currents can run.
So far, a driver of an 18-wheeler tried driving through the flooded streets, but he did not make it. He was found dead inside his truck. Another man died in his car when his vehicle became totally submerged in the water. Two other people on Houston’s west side deliberately drove around a barricaded street, but they did not make it through the floodwaters. Another man was found dead in Waller County in his submerged vehicle. It is believed that he tried to drive through the water, but he somehow drove off the road and fell into a ditch. The other person who passed away was in a boat with four other people when the boat capsized near interstate 10 in Harris County around 7:45 a.m. The others were rescued alive and well.
Houston’s mayor Sylvester Turner said, “I regret anyone whose home is flooded again. There’s nothing I can say that’s going to ease your frustration. We certainly can’t control the weather. A lot of rain coming in a very short period of time, there’s nothing you can do.”
He went on to say, “There’s flooding in every part of Houston. We will rescue you.”
Houston and the surrounding area have almost shut down, urging its residents to travel only if it is an extreme emergency. Among the places that Mayor Sylvester Turner closed are all the city buildings, closed including government offices, schools, hospitals, city bus service, and rails.
“This is a dangerous situation and I do not want our employees trying to get to work. Do not go out until conditions improve.”
Areas around Houston had hail the size of golf balls, although during a live chat on YouTube with a host who is a resident of Houston, said she heard about hail the size of grapefruits. Margaret, from Texas Gal Treasures, said she had taken her kids to school, even though the parking lot was beginning to flood. She called her husband to discover that he was returning home because his place of work was closed. Instead of waiting for the school to close, Margaret took her kids out of school and went home.
Margaret said that her kid’s school was still open, but her friend who lived in another section of Houston, reported that her children’s school was closed. She was also one of the people without electricity and cellphone service for a brief time.
It is estimated that residents in Harris County sustained $5 billion in property damages and 1,000 homes have been flooded. The numbers are sure to climb if the rain continues as forecasted and the creeks continue to swell beyond their banks.
Mayor Sylvester Turner reminds citizens, “This is an unprecedented amount of rain. It’s been stubborn, and it’s not moving anytime fast.”
More than 17-inches of rain fell in one day in parts of the city, and up to 4-inches of rain per hour fell that morning at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people in the Houston area for strength, guidance, and hope.
[Photo by David J. Phillip/AP Images]