The Latest: Houston officials: Hunker down, stay off roads - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

The Latest: Houston officials: Hunker down, stay off roads

Posted: Updated:
CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. -

HOUSTON (AP) - The Latest on Tropical Storm Harvey (all times local):
    
8:35 a.m.
    
Vice President Mike Pence is stressing that the federal government will support Harvey recovery efforts going forward.
    
In an interview with Houston radio station KTRH Monday morning, Pence said the federal government will make the resources available to see Texas through rescue operations and recovery.
    
Pence noted that given the "magnitude of the flooding" that "it will be years coming back."
    
The vice president stressed that President Donald Trump has been "continuously engaged" on Harvey, noting that it is still the "beginning of the effort." He said details of Trump's visit to Texas will be "forthcoming."
    
___
    
8:30 a.m.
    
President Donald Trump has issued a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana as a storm that's flooded Houston dumps heavy bands of rain on that state.
    
Trump's emergency declaration on Monday initially covers five parishes in southwest Louisiana: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermillion.
    
A White House statement says the action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in those counties related to Harvey. The declaration also authorizes the federal government to cover 75 percent of costs of certain emergency protective measures.
    
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says lifesaving efforts including search and rescue and shelters will be needed, especially in southwest Louisiana where forecasters say 10 to 20 inches (25 to 51 centimeters) of rain could fall.
    
Harvey came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.
    
___
    
8 a.m.
    
Emergency vehicles made up most of the traffic in downtown Houston on what would have normally been a busy start of the work week.
    
Due to Harvey, the usually bustling business area was mostly deserted Monday morning.
    
The water had receded from parts of downtown Houston, near Buffalo Bayou, which flooded over the weekend from the lingering tropical storm. That situation could change as officials have started releasing even more water from reservoirs overwhelmed by Harvey.
    
About half of downtown Houston had no working traffic signals. Most businesses, including restaurants, were closed due to the storm.
    
Harvey came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.
    
___
    
7:50 a.m.
    
Louisiana's governor is asking President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana since forecasters expect Harvey to cause significant damage in the state.
    
Gov. John Bel Edwards said he sent a letter to the White House requesting the initial disaster declaration for five parishes in southwest Louisiana, and could add more areas to the request later.
    
Edwards said life-saving efforts such as search and rescue and shelters will be needed, especially in southwest Louisiana where forecasters say 10 to 20 inches (25 to 51 centimeters) of rain could fall.
    
Harvey came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 storm. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.
    
___
    
7:15 a.m.
    
The director of the National Weather Service is warning that the catastrophic flooding that's overwhelming Houston and other parts of Texas will worsen in the coming days and then be slow to recede once Harvey finally moves on.
    
Director Louis Uccellini said during a news conference Monday that up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain could fall in the coming days, on top of the more than 30 inches (76 centimeters) some places have already seen.
    
He says some of the heaviest rainfall today, at a pace of 6 inches (15 centimeters) an hour, will fall east of Houston in places such as Beaumont and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
    
He adds that while Houston is experiencing a break from the rain Monday morning, heavy rainfall is forecast to return later in the day into Tuesday.
    
___
    
7:05 a.m.
    
The Houston police chief is concerned about the prospect of more flooding, but is "keeping (his) fingers crossed" that the rain will subside.
    
In an interview Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Chief Art Acevedo says drainage is a concern.
    
He says he's "not sure where the water is going because it's just so much that we can't really absorb more in the ground at this point. ... We have way too much water and not enough places for it to drain."
    
He says officers have voiced frustration that they don't have enough high-water vehicles to quickly help everyone who is stranded.
    
He also warned any criminals who might try to take advantage of the disaster that his force has already arrested half a dozen people for looting.
    
___
    
7 a.m.
    
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is asking for volunteers to help Texas recover from Harvey.
    
William "Brock" Long, FEMA administrator, told a news conference in Washington Monday that "we need citizens to be involved," because the storm and resulting flooding is greater than the government can handle.
    
Long urges individuals and organizations to check the website www.nvoad.org or call 1-800-621-FEMA to find out how to help. He's asking for financial donations and for people "to figure out how to get involved as we help Texas find a new normal."
    
A National Weather Service official says the peak flooding from the Houston-area storm is expected to max out Wednesday and Thursday, but said the floods will be slow to recede and that catastrophic flooding will persist.
    
___
    
4:25 a.m.
    
Harvey continues to head back toward the Gulf of Mexico at a slow pace.
    
The National Hurricane Center says in its 4 a.m. CDT update that the tropical storm that made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane, dropping heavy rain in the Houston area, still has sustained winds of up to 40 mph (65 kph) and is centered 20 miles (30 kilometers) east of Victoria, Texas, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) southwest of Houston. It continues to creep to the southeast at 3 mph (4.8 kph).
    
That means it remains virtually stalled near the coast and continues to drop heavy rain on the Houston and Galveston areas. In the past 48 hours, numerous spots in the region have measured more than 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rain.
    
The hurricane center says Harvey's center was expected to drift off the middle Texas coast on Monday and meander offshore through Tuesday before beginning "a slow northeastward motion." The center says those in the upper Texas coast and in southwestern Louisiana should continue to monitor Harvey's progress.
    
___
    
3:38 a.m.
    
Houston officials continue to urge people to shelter in place and stay off flooded roadways as Harvey continues to batter the nation's fourth-largest city.
    
Public Information Officer Keith Smith also says Sunday that rescue efforts continue and now are focused on those who feel trapped inside a home or building.
    
Smith says the city's 911 emergency response system has been challenged by sharply increased call volumes since the tropical storm made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane. He says during a typical 24-hour period, the emergency response system receives about 8,000 calls. But during a 17-hour period following Harvey's landfall, more than 56,000 911 calls were received.
    
___
    
2:11 a.m.
    
As the nation's fourth-largest city braced for more rain and rescues, officials started releasing even more water from reservoirs overwhelmed by Harvey even though the move aimed at protecting downtown Houston could make already devastating flooding worse around thousands of homes.
    
The strategic engineering move began early Monday. Harvey, which made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm, sent devastating floods pouring into Houston Sunday as rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground and overwhelmed rescuers who could not keep up with the constant calls for help.
    
Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District, says residents affected by the release should pack what's needed and leave when the sun comes up.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - The Latest on Tropical Storm Harvey (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Both major airports in Houston have been closed amid severe flooding blamed on Tropical Storm Harvey.

A Houston Airport System statement at midday Sunday said George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport are closed to commercial flights until further notice.

Officials say roads in and out of both airports are shut down due to flooding.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall late Friday night along the Texas coast about 230 miles southwest of Houston, but it wasn't until late Saturday night that what became Tropical Storm Harvey began bringing torrential rains causing flooding to the Houston area.

The airport system's website says Bush Intercontinental Airport is 23 miles north of downtown Houston and provides service via 29 passenger airlines.

Hobby Airport is 7 miles south of downtown Houston and is served by four passenger airlines.

___

1 p.m.

Many of the people arriving at the George R. Brown Convention Center, which has been opened as a shelter for people fleeing flooding, are from a public housing complex about a mile north.

Clayton Homes public housing complex is bounded on one side by Interstate 45 and the other by Buffalo Bayou, which has flooded heavily along with all of Houston's major waterways. Police are using boats to evacuate many of the residents and bring them to the convention center in pickup trucks.

D'Ona Spears and Brandon Polson walked with their five children Sunday, bags full of belongings, and their 7-year-old Chihuahua, Missy. They decided to leave once the water in the first story of their home reached their knees.

Spears says that when they made it to the convention center, they sent their children inside to eat, but stayed outside with their Chihuahua because animals were not allowed inside.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced earlier Sunday that the convention center would serve as a shelter for people fleeing the flooding.

___

12:40 p.m.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says that Ben Taub Hospital, the county's public hospital, is being evacuated because flooding problems in the basement are disrupting power service.

Emmett overseas government operations in Harris County where Houston is located. He tells a news conference that evacuated patients are being taken to other area hospitals. It was not immediately known how many patients were being moved.

___

12:30 p.m.

Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Oditt (OH'-dit) says helicopters have rescued more than 100 people in the Houston area as Tropical Storm Harvey floods numerous neighborhoods.

In a conference call Sunday with reporters, Oditt says Coast Guard personnel and aircraft from around the country have been dispatched to Texas. He says Texas Air National Guard choppers were also assisting with rescues.

Oditt says people facing rising floodwaters should not go into attics, since rescuers in the air cannot see them. The incident commander urged people who head to their rooftops to wave sheets, towels or anything else to attract the attention of helicopter crews.

Coast Guard helicopter crews along the southern portion of the Texas coast are reporting the rescue of almost 40 people, starting from the morning before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. That includes six people rescued from their home Saturday evening in the hard-hit city of Aransas Pass. Among them were three children, their two parents and an elderly woman who was in need of oxygen.

___

12:05 p.m.

The National Weather Service now says some parts of Houston and just west of the city may receive a Texas record of 50 inches (1270 millimeters) of rain as Tropical Storm Harvey stalls over Texas.

NWS meteorologist Patrick Burke says rainfall totals will end up around 40 inches (1016 millimeters) or more for Houston on average, but some isolated spots will hit or exceed 50 inches.

Burkes says, "We're in kind of unprecedented territory with this storm."

Local rainfall amounts of 50 inches would exceed any previous Texas rainfall record. The NWS says in a statement that "the breadth and intensity of this rainfall is beyond anything experienced before and is resulting in catastrophic flooding."

So far rainfall totals since Thursday evening have reached about 25 inches (635 millimeters) in south Houston. In Dayton, located 38 miles  (61kilometers) northeast of Houston, rainfall has already reached 27 inches (685 millimeters).

___

11 a.m.

Residents of a South Texas city who evacuated before Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast as a hurricane are being warned not to return unless they bring their own food and water.

Officials with Victoria, about 90 miles north of Rockport, near where Harvey came ashore Friday night, said Sunday on Facebook that the city of 85,000 has no water service and limited power.

The statement says Harvey had a "devastating" impact on Victoria and it could be weeks before all electric service is restored.

The city statement says: "For those that decide to come back to Victoria, bring enough food and water to last three to four days. Be sure you have enough gas in your car to last several days. Be prepared for no electricity at your home for several days or weeks."

A mandatory evacuation was ordered for Victoria County, where the city is located.

Bryan Simons, spokesman for the Victoria County sheriff's office, says, "We've got widespread damage. Lots of trees down, power lines. We've got traffic lights missing and lots of debris."

___

10:30 a.m.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena says that since midnight his agency has responded to more than 2,500 emergency calls and another 1,000 calls are waiting to be serviced.

Pena says his agency has made more than 250 water rescues, all of them people in vehicles, during a three hour period overnight.

But Houston Assistant Police Chief Larry Satterwhite says there has been an increase in calls from residents with flooded homes in the city's northeast, southeast and southwest sections.

___

10:15 a.m.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is defending his decision not to ask residents to evacuate before the heavy rain from Tropical Storm Harvey swamped roads and neighborhoods across the nation's fourth-largest city.

Turner says at a news conference Sunday that there was no way to pinpoint which neighborhoods would be worst hit. He says every neighborhood has received at least some flooding.

He says, "If you think the situation right now is bad and you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare."

Turner asked people to stay in their homes and not drive if at all possible. Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena says authorities have made more than 250 vehicle rescues in the storm.

___

10:05 a.m.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says emergency personnel have responded to more than 2,000 calls to 911 for rescues in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. He said priority was being given to life-threatening calls.

Turner also said at a news conference Sunday that he has ordered the downtown George R. Brown Convention Center opened as a shelter as floodwaters inundated much of the city.

Turner also urged people not to drive, as numerous streets and roadways in Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, were flooded Sunday.

The George R. Brown Convention Center has 1.8 million square feet of space.

___

9:50 a.m.

A Catholic priest has used a kayak to get from his home in southeast Houston to higher ground and hoped to say Mass for people stranded on the streets.

Father David Bergeron says that he tried to buy some wine for Mass at a convenience store but couldn't because sales are prohibited in Texas on Sunday before noon.

Bergeron tells television station KTRK that: "this is how America was evangelized - by canoe."

He says that he is praying for people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey.

___

9:40 a.m.

Staff at a Houston television station broadcasting live coverage of Tropical Storm Harvey had to evacuate after water from nearby flood-prone Buffalo Bayou started to gush into the building.

                KHOU-TV tweeted images Sunday of water pushing through a front door and flooding the lobby. Other images showed sand bags placed against another door had failed to stop the water that was already ankle deep.

Floodwaters around 6:30 a.m. Sunday began seeping into the first-floor studio of KHOU, which is the CBS affiliate in the nation's fourth largest city. The anchors and news operations then moved to a second floor as live coverage of Harvey continued.

Later tweets say the station was being evacuated due to flooding.

The station last flooded in 2001 during Tropical Storm Allison.

___

9:35 a.m.

Harris County sheriff's spokesman Jason Spencer says flooding throughout the county that includes Houston and the region is so widespread that it's "difficult to pinpoint the worst area."

He says authorities are prioritizing hundreds of phones calls for help to ensure life-and-death situations "are at the top of the list."

"It's heartbreaking," he says.

Spencer says the department has high-water vehicles and airboats but "certainly not enough."  He says officials are encouraged that rescue teams from the National Guard and state agencies have also been deployed.

___

9:25 a.m.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says Hurricane Harvey is a "landmark event" and the federal agency will be in the areas worst affected "for years."

Brock Long says nearly 5,000 people from the federal government are doing search and rescue missions, helping to restore power and supporting what he calls "mass care missions."

Speaking Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Long said: "We expect a huge mass care mission today, of people flocking to shelters, if they can get to shelters."

___

9:15 a.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says that boats and helicopters are being deployed to help with swift-water rescues in the Houston area and parts of East Texas also facing flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Abbott, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," said: "We're measuring rain these days not in inches but in feet."

He tells ABC's "This Week" that they "could not be more appreciative" of what the federal government and President Trump have done to help as Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

Abbott said on CNN's "State of the Nation" he's talked to Trump several times and the head of FEMA. He says, "We've made multiple requests and we're getting absolutely everything we need."

Abbott said Harris County, which includes Houston, will soon be included in a federal disaster declaration as a result of Harvey.

___

8:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he will be traveling to Texas "as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption" in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Trump tweeted that the "focus must be life and safety."

At least two people are dead and more than a dozen injured due to the storm that has battered the region, including the cities of Corpus Christi and Houston.

Trump has been complimenting the response to the storm on his Twitter feed, commending "Great coordination between agencies at all levels of government."

Trump adds that: "Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground."

The storm could linger for days in the region and could unload as much as 40 inches of rain on cities including Houston.

___

8:15 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it's received more than 300 requests for urban search and rescue in the Houston area.

The Coast Guard has five helicopters working the emergency calls and is asking for additional helicopters from New Orleans to help.

Officials are advising people in dire straits to get to the roofs of their homes and mark them somehow to be seen from the air. They're suggesting people wave sheets or towels.

___

7:45 a.m.

Flooding in some parts of the county that includes the city of Houston is so bad that residents are being urged to seek refuge on their roofs.

Harris County Flood Control District official Jeff Lindner says people inundated by rising waters shouldn't crawl into attics of their homes but should get on top of them.

He says rainfall of more than 4 inches per hour has sent water higher than in recent Houston floods side and are exceeding levels seen in Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001.

Lindner says areas south of the city appear hard-hit and some flooding is reported in downtown Houston and in the Texas Medical Center, which was devastated in Allison.

He calls Harvey "a different animal" from Allison and a "historic situation."

He says he's most amazed that he's getting reports "of water into second-story of apartments and homes."  Considering Houston's flat terrain, "it's very rare to get that depth of water."

___

6:20 a.m.

Authorities say rescue attempts continue in Houston for those stranded inside flooded homes and submerged vehicles in the wake of Harvey.

The Houston Chronicle reports that hundreds of calls have been fielded for water rescues as of early Sunday, including Houston police officials who evacuated two apartment complexes and rescued more than 50 children.

Meanwhile, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Sunday continued urging residents via Twitter to "shelter in place" and stay off rain-swollen roadways.

Gonzalez actively used Twitter overnight to field assistance for those trapped inside water-soaked homes, attics and vehicles. Those appealing for assistance or being steered to help via Gonzalez's Twitter feed included a person suffering "cardiac-arrest," and a woman who posted: "I have 2 children with me and the water is swallowing us up. Please send help."

Gonzalez at one point appealed for calm and patience, saying officials were "trying to make it to everyone as best we can."

Turner's official Twitter account said "911 services at capacity. If u can shelter in place do so, a few inches in your home is not imminent danger. Only call if in imminent danger."

___

4:03 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Harvey continues to cause "catastrophic flooding in southeastern Texas."

The hurricane center says in its 4 a.m. Sunday update that the tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (72.42 kph) and remains stationary about 45 miles (72.42 kilometers) northwest of Victoria, Texas.

A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning also are both in effect for Port O'Connor to Sargent. The hurricane center says a storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline.

The center says Harvey is likely to weaken to a tropical depression later Sunday. Harvey made landfall Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says a Flash Flood Emergency over west and central Harris County, where Houston is located, as well as for eastern Fort Bend and northern Brazoria counties remains in effect until 6:15 a.m. Sunday, calling it a "Particularly Dangerous Situation."

___

2:11 a.m.

Jersey Village, Texas, officials are recommending that people who live along the White Oak Bayou, about 17 miles northwest of Houston, consider whether they need to evacuate their homes.

Jersey Village City Manager Austin Bleess says the city issued a notice to residents about 1:30 a.m. saying the bayou looked like it would be out of its banks before long. He says city officials worried that streets may soon become impassable and wanted those residents to have time to make arrangements.

"Certainly if people can stay in their homes, they can do that," Bleess said. "It's quite possible that the streets could get impassable so we wanted to get that recommendation out."

Bleess says the city is in the process of opening a storm shelter at the Champion Forest Baptist Church, Jersey Village chapter.

___

1:20 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Harvey continues to weaken at a slow pace as it produces torrential rains across parts of Southeast Texas.

In its early Sunday update, the hurricane center said the tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (72.42 kph) and it is practically stationary about 45 miles (72.42 kilometers) northwest of Victoria, Texas.

The airport in Austin, about 165 miles (265.53 kilometers) west of Houston, reported sustained winds of 38 mph.

The center says Harvey is likely to weaken to a tropical depression later Sunday. Harvey made landfall Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service extended a Flash Flood Emergency over west and central Harris County, where Houston is located, as well as for eastern Fort Bend and northern Brazoria counties until 6:15 a.m. Sunday, calling it a "Particularly Dangerous Situation."

___

12:30 a.m.

At least two people have died as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to dump rain on Southeast Texas.

The Harris County medical examiner's office confirmed the death of one person late Saturday in Harris County, but the office did not identify the cause of death.

Gary Norman, a spokesman for the Houston emergency operations center, says the woman appeared to have gotten out of her vehicle in high water. She was found by neighbors about 30 yards away from the vehicle. Norman says she was pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor who was in the area.

Earlier Saturday, Aransas County Judge C.H. "Burt" Mills Jr. said the storm left one person dead in the county.

Harvey came ashore Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane, but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

8/27/2017 11:29:41 AM (GMT -7:00)

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