The unprecedented flooding in Texas could be about to get much worse after rising waters breached a river levee south of Houston.
Brazoria County officials tweeted a chilling warning to residents in the area Wednesday morning (AEST) telling them simply to “Get out now!”
The levee was breached after inland waterways rapidly swelled to major flood stage, Brazoria County spokeswoman Sharon Trower said.
“The Brazos River is being pounded, and all of that water is coming down from the tributaries and creeks into the river,” she said.
“All the roads around us are flooded. We don’t have any evacuation routes to tell people to take.”
— Brazoria County (@BrazoriaCounty) August 29, 2017
The grim warning came as President Donald Trump vowed a complete federal government response to the devastating flooding brought on by of Tropical Storm Harvey.
The slow-moving storm has brought record-breaking rains and catastrophic flooding to Texas, killed at least nine people, led to mass evacuations and paralysed Houston, the fourth most-populous US city.
Te official death toll from the disaster stands at nine after a Houston police officer was confirmed to have drowned in the flood. Many more are believed to have died, but have not been confirmed.
Some 30,000 people were expected to seek emergency shelter as the flooding entered its fourth day.
Officials in Houston’s Harris County said reservoirs built to handle drainage water were beginning to overflow.
Residents nearby were urged to evacuate as they released water to alleviate pressure on two dams, a move that would add to flooding along the Buffalo Bayou waterway.
President Trump, speaking in Corpus Christi near where Harvey first came ashore last week, said he wants future presidents to look back and say the way he handled the storm is the way disaster management should be done.
“We want to do it better than ever before,” he said. “… This was of epic proportion. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”
The storm has drawn comparisons with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans 12 yeas ago, killing 1800 people.
Former President George W. Bush was widely criticised for his administration’s handling of the response to that disaster.
Some 3500 people already have been rescued from high waters in the Houston area with police, firefighters and National Guard troops continuing to try to locate those marooned in high waters.
“Every passing hour, more boats are getting into the water,” Police Chief Art said. “This is a catastrophic event.”
The storm broke rainfall records at one measuring site south of Houston, which recorded 49.32 inches (1.25 m) of precipitation since the storm’s start. The rainfall is more than the region typically sees in a year.
Multiple looters were arrested overnight, police said.
After Corpus Christi, President Trump is headed to Austin, the state capital, to meet with officials.
Houston was not on his itinerary because much of its metropolitan area, where 6.8 million people live, is underwater.
While much of the damage in Houston has been rain-related, the storm’s winds picked up overnight.
The slow-moving storm’s centre was likely to remain just off the coast of Texas through Tuesday night before moving inland over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Harvey was expected to produce another 15-30 cm of rain through Thursday over parts of the upper Texas coast into southwestern Louisiana, the National Weather Service said.
– With AAP