Houston was again pummeled by rain Monday after a brief respite as the catastrophic storm known as Harvey stalled over the region — submerging countless homes and businesses, turning freeways into rivers and prompting thousands to plead for help.
According to the National Weather Service, residents can expect another 24 inches of rain, the return of tropical storm force winds and high flood waters. The NWS has issued flood watches and warnings from near San Antonio to New Orleans, an area that is home to more than 13 million people.
The unprecedented storm is likely to displace at least 30,000 people, has cut power to 300,000 residents, led to five reported deaths and 2,000 rescues, while inundating the nation’s fourth-largest city with over 11 trillion gallons of water.
Schools, airports and office buildings remain closed on Monday as city officials asked residents to remain calm in the face of disaster.
“This is a landmark event for Texas,” Brock Long, FEMA’s administrator, told reporters, noting that his agency expects at least 450,000 people to file for disaster assitance. “Texas has never seen an event like this.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday that there are already 5,500 people in shelters and that number is expected to rise — with Dallas readying the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center to hold up to another 5,000 evacuees.
Long said Monday that 30 to 50 counties are possibly impacted by the storm and flooding in Texas, beyond Houston, and that southwest Louisiana, which President Trump approved a declaration of emergency for, will also see “a tremendous amount of rainfall.”
Rainfall totals already range from 20 to 39 inches across southeast Texas. Harvey’s onslaught is predicted to continue for the next few days, as the storm swirls around the southeastern U.S. coast, briefly heads offshore and then makes another landfall. Some communities in the Houston area will likely see 50 inches of rain by the time it’s over.