Singaporeans in Houston take extra precautions

Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, on Aug 27, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singaporeans in Houston, Texas, have been taking extra safety precautions as Tropical Storm Harvey, the strongest storm to hit the US state since 1961, continues to dump rain.

Undergraduate Jaswin John, 21, has been staying indoors since the storm made landfall last Friday.

She was due to start classes at Houston Baptist University yesterday, but the school is closed till next Tuesday. "It's expected to rain for the rest of the week... We are still on tornado and flash-flood watch," said Ms John, who stocked up on water after going to five grocery stores. "The lines are long and the shelves are empty at the supermarket," she added.

The storm has killed at least five people. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement last night that the Singapore Embassy in Washington is monitoring the situation closely. It said: "Thus far, there are no reports of injured Singaporeans. Singaporeans in the area should closely monitor local news and heed the advice of the local authorities."

Schools, airports and office buildings in Houston were ordered shut yesterday. The storm is forecast to remain around the Gulf of Mexico coast for several more days.

Business consultant Daniel Koh, 31, was due to fly back to Singaporelast Saturday after a business trip, but has been stranded at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport with about 200 other travellers since Sunday because of multiple flight cancellations.

The airport has given them food, drinks and camping beds to rest on.

"The situation is under control, just that we are not sure who will help us to reschedule our flight," said Mr Koh.

Engineer Johnny Ong, 40, said Harvey "takes the cake" in terms of severe flooding, compared with other storms he has experienced in his 15 years in Texas. He and his wife have stocked up on water and provisions, and can communicate only by phone, as their Internet connection has been hit by the storm.

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

Ms John will join relief efforts in Houston if the weather permits and 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," she said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline Singaporeans in Houston take extra precautions. Subscribe