More than 1,000 rescues, evacuations as Imelda soaks Texas | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

More than 1,000 rescues, evacuations as Imelda soaks Texas

Associated Press
1699322_web1_AP19262829733883
Houston Chronicle
Jerran Pearson, left, and Ryan Bettencourt and his dog, Chief, are rescued by boat from their neighborhood flooded due to heavy rain spawned by Tropical Depression Imelda on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Patton Village, Texas.
1699322_web1_1699322-7ddc78dad06942ff8a226f547473d38f
Houston Chronicle
Splendora Police Lt. Troy Teller, left, Cpl. Jacob Rutherford and Mike Jones pull a boat carrying Anita McFadden and Fred Stewart from their flooded neighborhood inundated by rain from Tropical Depression Imelda on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Spendora, Texas.
1699322_web1_1699322-b71a89c5c45f4e998ba4f44af57ca602
Houston Chronicle
A man walks into high water into his neighborhood as rain from Tropical Depression Imelda inundated the area on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, near Patton Village, Texas.
1699322_web1_1699322-14781d58c8b84937ae0e233565f480af
Houston Chronicle
A pair of men get into a boat to float in to rescue a family trapped by floodwaters as rain from Tropical Depression Imelda inundated the area on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, near Patton Village, Texas.
1699322_web1_1699322-d382f2907f1f401b84ac482079ec9155
Houston Chronicle
A flooded out car is stranded in high water off U.S. 59 as rain from Tropical Depression Imelda inundated the area on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, near Spendora, Texas.
1699322_web1_1699322-f65bf41be0294e74bbcdc2a913c7c4bd
Houston Chronicle
A postal truck drives through floodwaters from Tropical Depression Imelda, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Galveston, Texas.
1699322_web1_1699322-6ff5e075f5414258b5398f521d459d92
Houston Chronicle
Cars drive on a flooded street in Sargent, Texas, as seen in this aerial photo Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Sargent received 22 inches of rain since tropical storm Imelda hit the area on Tuesday, according to Matagorda County Constable Bill Orton.

CHINA, Texas — The slow-churning remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda dangerously flooded parts of Texas and Louisiana on Thursday, scrambling rescue crews and volunteers with boats to reach scores of stranded drivers and families trapped in their homes during a relentless downpour that drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said there had been a combination of at least 1,000 high-water rescues and evacuations to get people to shelter. More than 900 flights were canceled or delayed in Houston, and further along the Texas Gulf Coast, authorities warned that a levee could break near Beaumont in Jefferson County.

A 19-year-old man drowned and was electrocuted while trying to move his horse to safety, according to a message from his family shared by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Crystal Holmes, a spokeswoman for the department, said the death occurred during a lightning storm. Authorities elsewhere had reported no loss of life or major injuries.

The National Weather Service said radar estimates suggested that Jefferson County was deluged with more than 40 inches of rain in a span of just 72 hours.

“The water kept rising. It kept rising. I couldn’t believe it,” said Ruby Trahan Robinson, 63. She uses a wheelchair and had a portable oxygen tank while getting settled into a shelter at city hall in the small town of China, just outside Beaumont.

“It rolled in like a river,” she said.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner evoked the memory of Harvey — which dumped more than 50 inches of rain on the nation’s fourth-largest city in 2017 — while pleading with residents to stay put. City officials said they had received more than 1,500 high-water rescue calls to 911, most from drivers stuck on flooded roads, but authorities described a number of them as people who were inconvenienced and not in immediate danger.

Ahead of the evening rush hour, Houston officials urged commuters to stay in their offices rather than embark on flooded and already jammed highways. Turner made a similar appeal to parents of schoolchildren as the Houston Independent School District — Texas’ largest with more than 200,000 students — did not cancel classes or shorten the day unlike neighboring districts in the path of the storm.

Imelda is the first named storm to impact the Houston area since Harvey hovered for days and inundated the flood-prone Gulf Coast. That storm dumped more than 5 feet of water near the Louisiana border, and two years later, it looked in some places like Harvey was playing out all over again.

A massive Houston furniture store became a shelter for evacuees. Live television footage showed firefighters rescuing stranded truckers on major highways. On social media, people posted that water was quickly seeping into their home and asked for help.

Large swaths of Interstate 10 were turned into waterways and closed. And even as the intensity of the storm weakened, Harris County officials warned that some of their 4.7 million residents might not see high waters recede in their neighborhoods until the weekend.

“We’re still putting water on top of water,” said Jeff Linder, meteorologist of the Harris County Flood Control District.

In Winnie, a town of about 3,200 people 60 miles east of Houston, a hospital was evacuated. Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said emergency workers completed more than 300 rescues overnight and some residents were up on their roofs because of rising floodwaters.

During Harvey, Beaumont’s only pump station was swamped by floodwaters, leaving residents without water service for more than a week. The Jefferson County sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post that residents of an area where a levy was deteriorating should use their boats to pick up neighbors and carry them to safety.

Thunderstorms had spawned several weak tornadoes in the Baytown area, about 25 miles east of Houston, damaging trees, barns and sheds and causing minor damage to some homes and vehicles.

The National Hurricane Center said Imelda weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall as a tropical storm Tuesday near Freeport, Texas, with maximum sustained wind of 40 mph.

The flooding from Imelda came as Hurricane Humberto blew off rooftops and toppled trees in the British Atlantic island of Bermuda, and Hurricane Jerry was expected to move to the northern Leeward Islands on Friday and north of Puerto Rico on Saturday.

Categories: News | Top Stories | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.