More than 30,000 people are expected to be placed in temporary shelters in the US state of Texas due to widespread flooding caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, US officials said, with more rain expected in the coming days.
Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said on Monday that 50 counties in Texas are affected by the floods, which were brought about by an estimated six months-worth of rain falling in the last three days alone.
“We have not seen an event like this. You could not draw this forecast up, you could not dream this forecast up,” Long said.
Earlier, Texas Governor Greg Abbott deployed an additional 1,000 National Guard troops, on top of the 3,000 already sent in the flood-stricken state, which is the size of France, Belgium and Switzerland combined.
At least five people have been reported killed in the storm and the flooding that followed, according to reports.
Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Houston, the largest city in Texas, said that in the last 48 hours, emergency agencies have received some 6,000 calls for help.
She said that between 300 to 400 households are still waiting to be reached by rescuers as of 13:00 GMT on Monday.
Our correspondent also said that the flooding is expected to rise in some parts of Houston, as authorities are expected to open dam and levies in the area, to ease pressure from continuous rain.
Al Jazeera’s weather presenter Richard Angwin reported that the “worst is probably yet to come”, saying that the storm, which is moving only at an estimated five kilometres per hour, could dump more rain in the coming days.
“We are only half-way through the rainfall,” he said.
“The storm is going nowhere very fast. It is going so slowly. There’s still a lot still coming out of it, picking up warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.”
|Some parts of the city of Houston, the fourth biggest US city, was fully submerged in the flooding that followed the storm [Reuters]|
In some areas just north of Houston, rainfall has already reached 1,000mm in the last three days, which our correspondent described as “catastrophic”.
Aside from the 50 counties affected in southern Texas, a portion of south-western state Louisiana was also affected by Harvey, which made landfall late on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane.
Harvey has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, but the damage it has left is extensive.
Tropical storm Harvey brings deadly floods to Houston
About 450,000 people are anticipated to apply for disaster assistance, which would make them eligible for financial support, possible replacement of property and other disaster-related aid.
President Donald Trump is expected to visit Texas on Tuesday, but not Houston as flooding in the US’s fourth largest city continues.
Harvey is the first major natural disaster to hit the US Trump’s presidency. On Sunday, he convened a cabinet meeting by telephone in response to the disaster.
Harvey was the fiercest hurricane to hit the country in 13 years, and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies