An evacuation order has been issued south of Houston after a levee along a river system was breached. President Donald Trump and the first lady have arrived in Texas, where Tropical Storm Harvey has wreaked havoc.
An evacuation order was issued on Tuesday after a levee was breached just south of Houston. “Get out Now!!” Brazoria County officials told residents, after water from the Brazos River broke over the levee at Columbia Lakes.
Matt Sebesta, the county’s chief administrator, urged residents of the Columbia Lakes neighborhood – which lies some 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Houston – to leave.
“They need to get out. Get to higher ground…” he said in a televised interview.
To the east of Houston both the Addicks and Barker reservoirs were said to be at record high levels and already overflowing, despite efforts from the Army Corps of Engineers to release water in a controlled way.
The disaster has unfolded on a dramatic scale, with Houston – the fourth largest city in the US – paralyzed by the storm and subsequent flooding.
Rescuers are still plucking people from vantage points around the city’s submerged neighborhoods. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said police had rescued more than 3,000, while the Coast Guard said it also had also rescued 3,000 by boat and air. Sylvester said the Coast Guard was taking more than 1,000 calls per hour.
The US president and his wife, Melania, arrived in Texas on Tuesday although they were not scheduled to visit Houston itself. Instead, the pair visited the city of Corpus Christi – close to where the hurricane, later downgraded to a tropical storm – made landfall on Friday.
Trump, who is dealing with his first natural disaster, said he wanted the relief effort to stand as a textbook example of disaster management. “We want to do it better than ever before,” he said.
He has promised the federal government will be on hand to help Texas on its “long and difficult road to recovery” from the storm.
The president received briefings on relief efforts and met members of local organizations dealing with the crisis. Corpus Christi is slowly recovering but still lacks a reliable, safe source of drinking water in many parts.
Trump was also scheduled to visit the Texas emergency operations center in the state capital, Austin.
On Monday, Trump declared a state of emergency in neighboring Louisiana, which is next in line for torrential downpours.
Death toll increases
The medical examiner’s office for Harris County, which takes in Houston, on Tuesday confirmed six deaths since Sunday that were “potentially tied to Hurricane Harvey.” The previous death toll allocated to the weather system was three.
Officials on Tuesday warned that the danger had not yet passed, with more families still stranded by the floodwater or housed in emergency shelters. Meanwhile, the tropical storm appeared to be gathering strength once again on the Gulf coast.
rc/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)