Harvey makes landfall again in Louisiana

Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall again on Wednesday near the Texas-Louisiana border, adding more rain after a record downpour that has caused catastrophic flooding and paralysed the city of Houston.
Mr Larry Koser Jr and his son Matthew searching for important papers and heirlooms in their home in the Bear Creek neighbourhood of west Houston, Texas, on Tuesday. The neighbourhood was flooded after water was released from a nearby reservoir.
Mr Larry Koser Jr and his son Matthew searching for important papers and heirlooms in their home in the Bear Creek neighbourhood of west Houston, Texas, on Tuesday. The neighbourhood was flooded after water was released from a nearby reservoir.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Flash flooding expected as storm unleashes more rain; death toll rises to 22

HOUSTON • The storm once known as Hurricane Harvey, already the biggest rainstorm in the history of the continental US, made landfall yet again yesterday morning, bringing another punishing wave of rain into Texas and Louisiana.

Five days after roaring ashore near Houston - leaving behind disastrous flooding and a mounting death toll that has reached at least 22 - Harvey made landfall before dawn near the tiny town of Cameron, Louisiana, after drifting back out into the Gulf of Mexico as it churned up the coast.

Now a tropical storm and expected to weaken over land, Harvey's immediate impact is not expected to pack the same destructive power as when it slammed into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane last week. But forecasters said the danger was far from over.

The National Weather Service warned yesterday that "catastrophic and life-threatening flooding will continue in and around Houston eastward into south-west Louisiana for the rest of the week".

It also warned that "expected heavy rain spreading north-eastward from Louisiana into western Kentucky may also lead to flash flooding" across those areas, imperilling a new swathe of the population.

As Harvey approached, storm-battered Louisiana - where memories of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the state 12 years ago this week, are still fresh - hunkered down, evacuating hundreds of people and deploying the Louisiana National Guard. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards urged people to "prepare and pray".

Harvey's movements up the coast also gave Houston respite from the heavy rain, even as the storm's true toll remained unknown.

More than 1.2m of rain over four days had turned the country's fourth-largest city into a sea of muddy brown water, as boats skimmed along what had been neighbourhood streets in search of survivors.

The impact in Houston is staggering. Between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of Harris County - home to 4.5 million people - was flooded as of Tuesday. That is an area potentially as large as New York City and Chicago combined.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner imposed a curfew in the city from midnight to 5am local time to deter the looting of abandoned homes.

"There are some who might want to take advantage of this situation," he said. "So even before it gets a foothold in the city, we just need to hold things in check."

Even though the heavy rain had departed and glimmers of hope - along with glimpses of the sun - had returned to Houston, officials were still struggling to define the enormity of what has happened.

At least 22 deaths were blamed on the storm, a number expected to rise as the authorities begin to enter flooded homes and cars. The toll includes Houston police sergeant Steve Perez, 60, who drowned while driving to work early on Sunday during the storm's peak.

Other stories of loss, grief and agony have begun to emerge.

Six family members were apparently swept away while trying to escape the storm. Police in Beaumont, Texas, said a woman and her young child who got out of their car on a flooded road were swept into a canal. When the authorities found them, the girl was clinging to her mother and about to go under a trestle, where they would have been lost for good.

The mother died while her daughter is in stable condition.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Harvey makes landfall again in Louisiana'. Print Edition | Subscribe