News World As many as five dead from ‘catastrophic’ Texas flooding

As many as five dead from ‘catastrophic’ Texas flooding

texas flooding
More than 1000 people have been rescued from Texas floodwaters as thousands more plea for help. Photo: AP
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As many five people are believed dead and rescuers continue to answer desperate calls for help as floodwaters from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey wreak havoc across Texas .

More than 1000 people were rescued by Monday morning (AEST) from record flooding in the state’s coastal areas, authorities said.

Authorities urged stranded families to seek refuge on their rooftops amid warning the death toll will rise.

Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Centre, told The New York Times: everything the centre had hoped wouldn’t happen was happening.

“We have a catastrophic, life-threatening flood event taking place over southeastern Texas, including the Houston metropolitan area. It’s bad now and it’s getting worse,” he said.

Harris County sheriff Ed Gonzalez used Twitter to field calls for assistance for those trapped inside homes, attics and vehicles.

Harris County includes Texas’ largest city, Houston.

Among those seeking help was a woman who posted: “I have 2 children with me and the water is swallowing us up.”

Officials urged people not to crawl into attics but to get on top of their roofs.

“Many neighbours are screaming for help,” one man wrote in Spanish to Sheriff Gonzalez on Twitter.

“Where?” the sheriff responded. “Keep calling 911”.

Police evacuated two apartment complexes overnight in Houston area, rescuing more than 50 children from rising water.

Houston is America’s energy capital and the site of US headquarters for Australian companies including BHP Billiton, Santos and Woodside.

“There must be a few thousand Aussies here at least,” Geelong-raised David Bryant, who works for BHP Billiton and is president of the Houston Lonestars Aussie rules club, told AAP.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the flooding was expected to reach record levels with torrential rains forecast for days to come.

“This is likely going to be historical rainfall, if not an all-time record,”  Governor Abbott told reporters on Monday morning.

He said 3000 National Guardsmen had been mobilised to help with the rescue effort.

The US National Weather Service said the flooding was “beyond anything experienced”.

In Friendswood near Houston, authorities asked people with flat-bottomed airboats or fuel for them to help rescue people from flooded homes, KPRC-TV in Houston reported on Sunday.

Houston officials used dump trucks and city buses to move residents to higher ground.

The rescues unfolded a day after the hurricane settled over the Texas coastline. It was blamed for killing at least two people and injuring up to 14.

Emergency 911 operators in Houston received more than 2000 calls for rescue, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

The mayor asked residents to use restraint in calling 911.
“I know people who call 911 may not be getting a response. Let’s give preference to the life-threatening calls,” he said.

President Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Texas on Tuesday, after he Tweeted he would visit the disaster area “as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption,” adding.;”The focus must be life and safety.”

In the island community of Port Aransas, population 3800, officials were unable to fully survey the town because of “massive” damage.

Police and heavy equipment had only made it into the northernmost street.

Some of the worst damage appeared to be in Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was directly in the storm’s path.

The mayor said his community took a blow “right on the nose” that left “widespread devastation”, including homes, businesses and schools that were heavily damaged. Some structures were destroyed.

One person was killed in Aransas County in a fire at home during the storm, county Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr said.

Another person, a woman who tried to get out of her vehicle in high water, died in flooding in Harris County, where Houston is located, though authorities had not confirmed a cause of death.

texas flood
Texas residents are warned conditions will get worse in the coming days. Photo: AP

Several more deaths have been reported, but authorities have not been able to formally confirm them because mare areas are inaccessible.

As many as 14 people suffered injuries, including slips and falls, scrapes and a broken leg, Mills said. About 300,000 customers were without power statewide.

Meanwhile, the storm was barely moving. Rainfall totals varied across the region, with Galveston receiving around 20cm, Houston 11cm and Aransas 25cm. Tiny Austwell got 38cm.

Elsewhere in the storm’s immediate aftermath, the Coast Guard had rescued 20 people from boats and barges in distress, said Captain Tony Hahn, commander of the Corpus Christi sector.

– With agencies