With rivers still rising, and emergency workers still rescuing soaked and frightened people in southeast Texas who have lost nearly all they own, officials counseled patience on Tuesday, warning that conditions for many residents will not improve any time soon.
The slow-moving, record-shattering Harvey, now a tropical storm, pummeled the Houston region for a sixth straight day and began to batter southwest Louisiana. With hundreds of thousands of people under evacuation orders, shelters filled to bursting with people who craved some news about the safety of their loved ones and the state of their homes.
For now, the city’s focus “will continue to be on rescue,” and not on damage assessment — much less recovery — Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a news conference.
Here’s the latest:
The National Weather Service said Tuesday that Harvey has now set a record for total rainfall from a single tropical cyclone in the continental United States, with two weather stations in Texas reporting total rainfall over 48 inches.
Local officials said there were 13 deaths in Texas so far that were storm-related or suspected to be storm-related. Officials in Houston confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, died while driving to duty on Sunday.
The Houston Police Department has rescued more than 3,500 people from flooding since the storm began, Chief Art Acevedo said on Tuesday, up from about 2,000 a day earlier. The city fire chief, Samuel Peña, said his department had performed more than 400 rescues. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office did not have an updated figure on Tuesday, but said it was considerably higher than the roughly 2,200 rescues it reported on Monday.
President Trump is visiting Texas, having arrived in Corpus Christi before traveling to Austin, the state capital.
More rain is expected through Friday.
Parts of Houston have already been inundated by more than 40 inches, and totals could exceed 50 inches there and 20 inches in southern Louisiana. With sustained winds near 45 miles per hour, the storm is not expected to weaken until its center moves further inland early Wednesday.
As for the record rainfall, a station at Clear Creek, near Interstate 45 southeast of Houston, measured 48.64 inches of rain since Harvey began, and one at Mary’s Creek in Pearland, a suburb, recorded 49.32 inches. The amount of 48.00 inches was recorded in Medina, Tex., during Amelia, a tropical storm in 1978.
Weather service officials noted that storm is not over and that those numbers may soon surpass the overall United States record for total rainfall from a single cyclone. In Hawaii during Hurricane Hiki in 1950, 52.00 inches of rain were recorded at a ranger station on Kauai.
How much rain is that where you live? Check your city or zipcode, via The Upshot.
Trump visits Texas.
Mr. Trump arrived in Corpus Christi on Tuesday for a briefing on relief efforts, and then headed to Austin for a tour of an emergency operations center and a briefing with state leaders.
“It’s a real team, and we want to do it better than ever before,” Mr. Trump said of the response effort during a meeting with officials from local, state and federal agencies in a Corpus Christi firehouse. “We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it.” Read more about his visit here.
A Houston officer died trying to get to work.
Officials confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Sgt. Steve Perez, of the Houston Police Department, died in floodwaters Sunday on his way to work.
Mr. Perez, 60, left his home around 4 a.m. on Sunday and spent at least 2.5 hours trying to make his way to work, Chief Art Acevedo said. After having not heard from Sergeant Perez, officials began searching for him on Monday. A dive team found his body early Tuesday morning,
“Unfortunately, in the darkness, Sergeant Perez drove onto an underpass,” Chief Acevedo said.
Long lines formed outside Houston’s main shelter.
In the early afternoon on Tuesday, scores of people waited under occasional raindrops, hoping to enter the George R. Brown Convention Center, where more than 9,000 people had been taken in. A pile of wet American Red Cross blankets sat near the end of one line, where most people waited quietly.
On Sunday and Monday, evacuees had been able to enter the sprawling complex with few, if any, delays. The convention center was far thicker with people on Tuesday and, it appeared, more organized.
But there were some signs that the shelter was growing more strained. Some people set up bedding in the main corridor — an area that had been mostly empty a day earlier — and said they had moved from the increasingly crowded main dormitory.
Nathan Malbrue, who was sitting on the edge of an inflatable mattress, said he was not bothered by the growing crowd. He said he was in the hallway, near a medical station, because of a heart condition. “Just bring everybody in,” he said. “This is a big building.”
But Cora Watson, 58, feared that the convention center would be overwhelmed. “Move them to hotels or something,” she said, her voice barely audible.
A levee breach threatens a village near Houston.
A levee designed to protect the community of Columbia Lakes, 40 miles southwest of Houston, from the Brazos River was breached Tuesday morning, Brazoria County officials said.
Columbia Lakes is a small resort village with a country club and golf course, and is surrounded by levees. Residents were ordered to “GET OUT NOW!!” according to a Twitter message, although many had already left after a mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday.
Tom MacNeil, an owner of a real estate brokerage in the town, said that residents who were still there told him the breach occurred in a levee alongside a creek that flows into the Brazos. Because the Brazos is rising, the creek backed up and poured through two low spots on the levee. The residents shored up the low spots and there was no water in the streets, Mr. MacNeil said.
But the National Weather Service has forecast that the Brazos, currently just above flood stage at 30 feet, will rise another few feet by Wednesday and go over the levees, which are at 32 feet.
“That’s the scary part we’re watching for,” Mr. MacNeil said.
Reservoirs are reaching their capacity in Houston, too.
Water rose to the top of an emergency spillway at a major flood-control reservoir west of downtown Houston on Tuesday morning, threatening to add to flooding in the area.
Levels at the Addicks reservoir dam read slightly more than 108 feet, the height at which water should overtop the spillway at the dam’s northern end. But officials said observers had so far seen no sign of water going over the structure.
“We do expect it to happen,” said Mike Sterling, lead water manager for Army Corp of Engineers’ Southwest Division. Efforts to release water through the dam’s gates have not kept the reservoir level from rising.
Mr. Sterling said that most of the overflow should enter drainage ditches and eventually flow into Buffalo Bayou, which passes through downtown Houston. But rising water is putting several neighborhoods north of the reservoir, including Twin Lakes, Eldridge Park and Tanner Heights, at risk of more flooding.
Levels at another nearby reservoir, Barker, are increasing as well and its spillway may overtop soon, Corps officials say.
And in a cruel paradox, the city also has to worry about having enough water. Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant, one of three plants that supply water to the city, is flooded. While the system is still working, even with much of its equipment underwater, city officials are worried about their ability to keep it running.