Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall again today as thousands of people are still awaiting rescue from catastrophic floodwaters in Texas, and the mayor of Port Arthur is urging people to get to high ground.
“Our whole city is underwater right now, but we are coming!” said Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman in a Facebook post. “If you called, we are coming. Please get to higher ground if you can, but please try to stay out of attics.”
The storm made landfall again just west of Cameron, La., early this morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A storm surge warning has been issued for a large swath of Louisiana's coastline, stretching from Holly Beach east to Morgan City, the National Hurricane Center said.
“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues in southeastern Texas and portions of southwestern Louisiana,” the Hurricane Center said.
There are eight confirmed dead from the storm, but officials expect that number to rise. Local officials have reported at least 30 deaths that were related or suspected to be related to the storm, according to The New York Times.
The sun was shining in Houston today, but cresting rivers are causing the catastrophic flooding in the nation’s fourth-largest city to worsen, according to NPR.
An area east of Houston recorded nearly 52 inches of rain from the storm, breaking the record for the greatest amount of measured single-storm rainfall for the continental United States.
Federal and local agencies have saved more than 13,000 people from perilous floodwaters — and those rescue efforts are continuing.
It was not clear if those numbers included the thousands of rescues made by residents of the state, who used their own boats in exhaustive shifts as long as 14 hours.
Jefferson County, which encompasses Port Arthur, has about 254,000 residents and is about 100 miles east of Houston.
The National Weather Service reported that the area had been hit particularly hard overnight, with about 12.5 inches reported at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport since 7 p.m. local time, The New York Times said.
The Port Arthur-based Motiva oil refinery, the nation’s largest such facility, had started a controlled shutdown in response to the flooding.
So far, damage in Louisiana has been minimal. “I guess we’re really fortunate,” Mike Steele, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, told the Times.
Of the 1,800 square miles of land that make up Harris County, which includes Houston, 25 to 30 percent “has been inundated,” meteorologist Jeffrey Lindner told the newspaper.
Over four days more than a trillion gallons of rain fell in the county — enough to “run Niagara Falls for 15 days,” he said, or fill the Houston Astrodome 3,200 times.
On average, the depth of the floodwaters countywide was 33 inches. But now that the rain is moving into Louisiana, Lindner said the flooding — reservoirs excepted — should drain by Friday or Saturday.