Harvey breaks rainfall record, with at least 22 people dead and many injured.
Tropical storm Harvey strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico last week and made landfall in Texas on Friday night. It has hit some of the state’s most populous cities, including Corpus Christi, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
Parts of the Houston area were inundated with more than 40 inches of rain, according to forecasters. They say totals could reach 50 inches as rainfall continues through Wednesday.
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, calling the storm “one of the largest disasters America has ever faced,” said the region would not recover anytime soon.
What made Harvey so powerful was its rain. Once the storm made landfall, it essentially stalled, turning roads in Houston and elsewhere into raging rivers.
Scientists say the hurricane was fuelled by a deadly combination of environmental factors, which might otherwise have guided the storm away from land.
“This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced,” the National Weather Service tweeted on Sunday morning.
Some residents were torn between staying in their homes and evacuating after Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner made the difficult decision not to issue a mandatory evacuation order.
Houston’s hospitals struggled to treat victims and the upheaval closed schools across Texas.
Emergency dispatchers were overwhelmed as dramatic rescues unfolded across the state.
Houston opened its convention center as a mass shelter and Dallas planned to do the same. Tens of thousands of people spent the weekend in shelters.
President Trump left the White House for Texas on Tuesday morning, even as the storm continued to bear down on parts of the state. He had signed a federal disaster proclamation over the weekend.
For many people, the images of inundated streets and victims plucked from rooftops evoked comparisons to Hurricane Katrina.