Harvey takes aim at Louisiana as Trump plans to survey stricken Texas – Washington Post
HOUSTON — The remnants of deadly Hurricane Harvey spilled toward Louisiana on Tuesday with more potentially disastrous flooding and emergency evacuations as President Trump planned to survey the ongoing devastation in stricken Texas.
Trump’s expected visit later Tuesday came after he pledged swift action by the federal government to provide relief to states affected by Harvey. It also comes on the 12th anniversary of the last massive storm to pinwheel in from the Gulf with catastrophic damage: Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 20, 2005.
The death toll in Texas stood at least nine. But the figure could rise as authorities pursue reports of people apparently lost in the torrential downpours unleashes by Harvey since Friday. In Montgomery County, north of Houston, police said a man was presumed drowned after attempting to swim across fast-moving flood wash.
Meanwhile, the storm clouds continue to drench the region with an unprecedented deluge — reaching 43 inches since Friday in South Houston and surpassing 40 inches in several other places in around the city, the National Weather Service reported.
For Houston, the rainfall amounts since June 1 reached 50.16 inches — more than the annual average rainfall of 49.77 inches.
In Louisiana, rescue teams near Lake Charles near the Texas border evacuated hundreds of people as floodwaters crested river banks and levees. Flash flood warnings and watches were in effect for much of the Lake Charles region as forecasters said up to 10 inches or more rain could fall before the storm is done. New Orleans was under a tornado and flash flood watch until Thursday.
Trump on Monday declared “emergency conditions” in Louisiana, evoking memories of Katrina. Hours earlier, authorities in Texas warned that more than 30,000 people across the region could be forced from their homes by the time skies are expected to clear later this week.
“We just can’t take any more,” Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said in western Louisiana, urging residents to leave flood-prone homes Monday. “Anything we get is going to be crucial at this point.”
The immediate focus for many remained on Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city and a sprawling metropolitan area that has seen its share of floods. But the deluge of the past two days is unprecedented.
Every major waterway in the city spilled over its banks. Gullies overflowed. Even neighborhoods far from a creek or bayou flooded. The hardest-hit areas were in the south and southeast, the downstream end of the waterways.
But the southwest will be the next theater for catastrophe. The Brazos River, which runs through Fort Bend County about 20 miles west of downtown Houston, has been swelling as the runoff from the storm collects in its banks. National Weather Service models showed the river rising to 59 feet by Tuesday, topping the previous record of 54.7 feet.
Earlier Tuesday, evacuation orders were given for two prisons with thousands of inmates near the Brazos.
Fort Bend County Judge John Hebert warned Monday night that more than a hundred square miles along the river could flood overnight and into Tuesday as the river swells to unprecedented heights.
“They can guarantee we’ll have a record flood in for Bend County,” he said. “In areas under mandatory evacuation, the danger is very real.”
Authorities issued mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders for parts of that area and warned that anyone who ignores mandatory evacuation orders will not be aided by first responders when the waters rise. But with virtually all the main thoroughfares already closed because of high water, many of the affected residents saw no way out.
Kim Adoubeif, 60, was among about a dozen residents of the Greatwood subdivision who stood in the rain atop a levee on the Brazos River on Monday to gaze at the water and ponder their fate. She said she checked online traffic maps and couldn’t find a route to safety.
“Every way out, there are roads that are flooded,” she said, holding an umbrella against the rain. “So we might not even find a way out.”
In the River Park subdivision, Byron Golden, 60, and his wife planned to stay put in their home. Other neighbors had tried to leave, only to meet flooded roads separating them from Interstate 10, a main artery out of town.