Singaporeans in Texas brace themselves as tropical storm Harvey rages on

A queue at a supermarket in Houston, Texas, where shoppers were waiting for the truck containing water to arrive, hours before hurricane made landfall. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JASWIN JOHN

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans in Houston, Texas, have been taking extra safety precautions as tropical storm Harvey, the strongest storm to hit the US state since 1961, rages on.

Undergraduate Jaswin John, 21, said she has been staying indoors since the storm struck last Friday (Aug 25).

She was due to start classes at Houston Baptist University on Monday, but the school has closed till Sept 5.

"It's still raining, it's expected to rain for the rest of the week... we are still on tornado and flash-flood watch," said Ms John, who managed to stock up on water only after going to five grocery stores.

"The lines are long and the shelves are empty at the supermarket. I have been receiving calls and also trying to update (my family back in Singapore) as the situation changes."

The storm has killed at least two people, though there have been no reports of Singaporean casualties so far.

Schools, airports and office buildings in Houston were ordered shut on Monday.

The storm is forecast to remain in the general area around Texas' Gulf of Mexico coast for several more days.

Engineer Johnny Ong, 40, said Harvey "takes the cake" in terms of flooding severity, compared with other storms he has experienced during the 15 years he has spent in Texas.

"I have some relatives and friends whose homes had water at about waist level. But I'm lucky that I wasn't hit that bad, save for a close call last night (Saturday night) when water was about 2 inches from entering my back door."

He and his wife have stocked up on water and provisions, and can communicate only by phone, as their Internet connection has been affected by the storm.

Bank employee Angela Hernandez and her husband are heeding local authorities' instructions to stay indoors unless an emergency situation occurs. Mrs Hernandez has been living in Houston for 21 years.

More than 2,000 people have been rescued by the Harris County Sheriff's Office, US Coast Guard and Houston police, and shelters have been set up around the city.

Ms John said that she will be joining relief efforts in Houston if the weather permits and if the roads are clear.

"There are people who are in far worse situations than I am, and it's only right that I lend a helping hand."

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