The sprawling and soaked Houston metro area and other deluged towns in southeastern Texas braced for devastating floods and pummeling rainfall on Sunday as Tropical Storm Harvey drifted over land and drenched dogged searchers and anxious residents.
The second fatality in the ferocious storm occurred in the Houston area when a woman drove her vehicle into high water, city police said. Police said they believe the car became inoperable or the water was too high to pass through. The victim got out of her vehicle, was overtaken by water and drowned.
The death occurred amid dire warnings to the region’s residents:
A flash flood emergency was in effect for parts of the Houston area. The National Weather Service and local officials are advising Houston-area residents to avoid traveling. Three to 4 inches of rainfall were reported in the region in one hour’s time. The storm spawned tornadoes and lightning, with extensive damage reported.
“Stay put,” the National Weather Service said.
“It’s going to last four to five days,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who urged drivers to stay off the road.
Meanwhile the first fatality was reported in the hard-hit coastal city of Rockport, where the person died in a house fire during the storm, Aransas County Judge Burt Mills said Saturday afternoon. “We didn’t know about it until today,” he said.
At least a dozen people were injured, Mills said.
With dire warnings of tornadoes, torrential downpours and days of flooding to come, broad swaths of southeast Texas were littered with uprooted trees, toppled signs, flagpoles that snapped like toothpicks and clusters of bricks peeled like scabs from walls and rooftops.
Additional fatalities were feared in Rockport, where an estimated 5,000 residents had stayed put for the storm that blasted ashore as a Category 4 around 11 p.m. ET Friday between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Aransas County Sheriff Bill Mills said.