Harvey: 1,000 rescued as Houston hit by ‘catastrophic floods’

BBC:-More than 1,000 people have been rescued in flooded parts of Houston, as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to batter Texas with heavy rains.

There is a “flash flood emergency” across the Houston Metro area, with travel near impossible, the National Weather Service (NWS) says.

It noted reports of five fatalities in the Houston area, but only one has been confirmed there so far.

Houston’s mayor says more than 2,000 calls asking for help have been made.

Sylvester Turner urged residents not to call emergency services unless their situation was life-threatening and they needed to be rescued.

He said a convention centre would be used as a shelter.

Two deaths have so far been confirmed from the storm:

  • In Aransas County, where Rockport is the chief town, a person died in a house fire on Friday night
  • A woman died in Houston as she drove through flooded streets on Saturday

The NWS in Houston and Galveston said that it had recorded 24.1in (61.2cm) of measured rain in the past 24 hours.

Flooding in the Houston area is expected to worsen and “could become historic”, with “potentially significant flooding also expected in other saturated areas of south-east [Texas]”, the forecaster says.

It is advising people to move to higher ground amid “an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation”.

Residents were warned not to try to travel unless “fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order”.

Like Houston, Galveston was also hit by “epic catastrophic flooding” overnight, the NWS added.

Rescue efforts are being hampered by strong winds and thousands are without power. The US Coast Guard in Houston has requested more helicopters as more people ask for help.

Governor Abbott has mobilised 1,800 military personnel to help with rescue and repair operations.