‘Major, catastrophic flooding’ from Tropical Depression Imelda has devastated parts of Texas, with the state’s governor declaring a state of disaster and local authorities calling the flooding ‘worse than Hurricane Harvey’, which was the most extreme flooding event in US history.
At least one person has died after being struck by lightning while trying to rescue people. Hunter Morrison was killed earlier on Thursday, with friends and family posting tributes to the young man on Facebook.
One said: ‘I’m at a loss for words. Hunter Morrison was killed by lightening while he was out rescuing. Young man from Fannett. There is nothing greater than laying down your life for another. Heaven is rejoicing. Please pray for family.’
Crews have rescued more than 1000 people and at least one hospital was evacuated, and road close as the relentless rain continues to beat down.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says among those rescued were nine children and employees from a daycare center that had taken on water in Aldine, about 10 miles north of Houston.
Imelda has battered Texas with up to 28 inches of rain in some areas, and forecasters are still warning that the tropical depression could bring up to 35 inches of rain to the state through Friday.
In Houston, a flash flood watch remained in effect until 7pm Thursday but the city itself has been spared from the heaviest rainfall.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a tornado warning Thursday morning for Chambers County, including the town of Winnie, where a flash flood emergency warning is also in place.
Forecasters said a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was moving through the area at 15mph. Authorities say high-water rescues are underway in some areas because of rising water.
Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in 13 counties, saying it ‘has caused widespread and severe property damage and threatens loss of life’.
‘The State of Texas is working closely with local officials and emergency personnel to provide the resources they need to keep Texans safe from Tropical Storm Imelda,’ Abbott said in a statement.
‘I thank our first responders who are acting swiftly to help the communities that are facing this severe weather event. I urge all those in the path of this storm to take the necessary precautions and heed all warnings from local officials.’
The counties included in the disaster declaration are Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange and San Jacinto.
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Hunter Morrison was killed earlier on Thursday after being struck by lightning while he was out rescuing people from the rising floodwaters in Texas, where a state of disaster has been declared
Rain from Tropical Depression Imelda dropped 28 inches of rain on parts of Texas on Thursday, prompting water rescues, a hospital evacuation and road closures
Imelda has battered Texas with up to 28 inches of rain in some areas, and forecasters are still warning that the tropical depression could bring up to 35 inches of rain to the state through Friday. Two cars became stalled in high water on 37th Street in Galveston, Texas
A driver creates a large wake driving through high water on 19th Street in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday
Part of a busy interstate in Texas is shut down because of flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda, stranding some drivers on the roadway.
Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Sarah Dupre says officials do not know exactly how many people are stranded in their cars on Interstate 10, which is shut down from Beaumont to Winnie. Dupre says the department is currently working with local law enforcement on a plan to get those people off the roadway.
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne says the sheriff’s office is focusing on high water rescues in Winnie and neighboring Stowell.
Hawthorne says some residents are up on their roofs because of rising floodwaters.
The worst of the flooding is east of Houston, and some local officials said the rainfall Thursday is causing flooding worse than what happened during Hurricane Harvey.
East of Houston, some local officials said the rainfall was causing flooding worse than what happened during Hurricane Harvey. In Winnie, a town of about 3,200 people 60 miles east of Houston, a hospital was evacuated and water was inundating several homes and businesses.
‘What I’m sitting in right now makes Harvey look like a little thunderstorm,’ Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told Houston TV station KTRK.
Hawthorne said that emergency workers rescued about 200 people overnight, and that an additional 50 households were on a waiting list to be rescued Thursday morning. He said airboats from the sheriff’s office and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department were helping with the rescues, along with high-water vehicles.
‘It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Right now I’m in an absolute deluge of rain,’ Hawthorne said on Thursday morning as he took cover under a carport at an auto dealership in Winnie. The town ‘looks like a lake.’
‘Right now, as a Texas sheriff, the only thing that I really want is for people to pray that it will quit raining,’ he added.
An alligator which has escaped from Gator Country in Beaumont is spotted in a resident’s flooded property – with people being warned to leave them alone as they’ll move on when floodwaters recede
In Beaumont, a city of just under 120,000 people that’s about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Gulf of Mexico, authorities said all service roads were impassable and two hospitals were inaccessible, the Beaumont Enterprise reported. Beaumont police said on Twitter that 911 has received requests for more than 250 high water rescues and 270 evacuations.
‘It’s bad. Homes that did not flood in Harvey are flooding now,’ Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said. During Harvey, Beaumont’s only pump station was swamped by floodwaters, leaving residents without water service for more than a week.
Residents have reported seeing of the 300-odd alligators from Beaumont’s Gator Country in their flooded properties.
The center warned: ‘Alligators tend to move around more frequently when flooding occurs. If you see one that is displaced and not causing danger or in danger please let it be, it will move on once the water recedes.
‘If you do come across an alligator that is in danger or could be a threat, please contact us and we will let you know what to do from there. ‘
The worst of the flooding is east of Houston, and some local officials said the rainfall Thursday is causing flooding worse than what happened during Hurricane Harvey
Flooding was reported in Beaumont, where authorities say all service roads are impassable. Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said homes that did not flood during Hurricane Harvey are now flooding
The NWS issued a flash flood emergency for several counties, saying ‘life-threatening amounts of rainfall’ have fallen and more is expected in the area Thursday
Meanwhile, newly formed Hurricane Lorena was perched right on the coast of southern Mexico, threatening to cause flooding along in an area that has been suffering unusually dry weather
Another storm, Category 3 Hurricane Humberto, blew off rooftops, toppled trees and knocked out power in Bermuda
Hundreds of flights have been canceled or delayed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston due to heavy rain and flooding in Southeast Texas.
Airport officials reported a full ground stop Thursday morning, meaning no flights landing or departing, with flooding on some roads leading to the airport in far north Houston.
The flight tracking service FlightAware reported nearly 200 flights canceled Thursday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, with more than 300 other flights delayed.
Airport spokeswoman Saba Abashawl said some inbound flights were diverted to William P. Hobby Airport, on the south side of Houston.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for several counties, saying ‘life-threatening amounts of rainfall’ have fallen and more was expected Thursday. Imelda’s center was about 110 miles north of Houston early Thursday and was moving north-northwest at 5 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Heavy rainfall occurred Wednesday in many areas. Thunderstorms spawned several weak tornadoes in the Baytown area, about 25 miles east of Houston, damaging trees, barns and sheds and causing minor damage to some homes and vehicles.
Coastal counties, including Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston, were hit hard by rainfall through Wednesday. Sargent, a town of about 2,700 residents in Matagorda County, had received nearly 20 inches of rain since Tuesday.
Coastal counties, including Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston, were hit hard by rainfall through Wednesday. Sargent (pictured), a town of about 2,700 residents in Matagorda County, had received nearly 20 inches of rain since Tuesday
Trucks drive down Carancahua Street to enter neighborhoods in Sargent, Texas, on Wednesday
A Freeport Police Department vehicle drives down a flooded S. Velasco Blvd between west Fifth and Seventh streets, Wednesday in Freeport, Texas
Karen Romero, who lives with her husband in Sargent, said Wednesday this was the most rain she has had in her neighborhood in her nine years living there.
‘The rain (Tuesday) night was just massive sheets of rain and lightning storms,’ said Romero, 57. She said her home, located along a creek, was not in danger of flooding as it sits on stilts, like many others nearby.
In the Houston area, the rainfall flooded some roadways Wednesday, stranding drivers, and caused several creeks and bayous to rise to high levels.
The NHC said Imelda weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall Tuesday near Freeport, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 40mph.
The weather service said Imelda is the first named storm to impact the Houston area since Hurricane Harvey dumped nearly 50 inches of rain on parts of the flood-prone city in August 2017, flooding more than 150,000 homes in the Houston area and causing an estimated $125billion in damage in Texas.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Humberto blew off rooftops, toppled trees and knocked out power as it blew past the British Atlantic island of Bermuda.
But officials said Thursday that the Category 3 storm caused no reported deaths.
‘We’ve made it through and everyone is safe,’ Premier David Burt said. ‘That’s what is most important.’
Terry Spencer carries his daughter, Trinity, through high water on 59th Street near Stewart Road in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday
Angel Marshman wades through floodwaters from Tropical Depression Imelda after trying to start his flooded car Wednesday in Galveston, Texas
Two men wade across 19th Street in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday as heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda caused street flooding on the island
A postman walks through the flooded streets from Tropical Depression Imelda as he delivered mail on Wednesday in Galveston, Texas
Security Minister Wayne Caines said schools and government offices would remain closed and he asked people to stay off roads while emergency crews clear them and remove power lines damaged by the hurricane, which had winds of about 120mph at its nearest approach to Bermuda Wednesday night.
He said Thursday that 28,000 customers on the island of 70,000 people remained without power in the morning.
The NHC said Humberto still had maximum sustained winds of at 125mph early Thursday, with tropical storm-force winds extending outward for 405 miles, covering a huge swath of ocean off New England and Nova Scotia.
Hurricane Humberto: This Category 3 storm in the Atlantic Ocean has blown off rooftops, toppled trees and knocked out power in Bermuda.
Hurricane Lorena: Forecasters upgraded Lorena from a tropical storm to a hurricane as of Thursday morning. It is centered about 25 miles southeast of Cabo Corrientes in Mexico.
Tropical Storm Jerry: The storm strengthened to top winds of 70mph on its way to becoming a hurricane. Jerry should reach the Leeward Islands on Friday.
Tropical Storm Mario: This storm is also brewing near Mexico, but it is further off the coast. It is expected to strengthen into a hurricane.
Tropical Storm Kiko: Forecasters said the storm is currently in the Pacific Ocean, more than 1,100 miles from Baja, California.
The storm was centered about 250 miles north-northeast of Bermuda and moving to the east-northeast at a brisk 22 mph.
Newly formed Hurricane Lorena was perched right on the coast of southern Mexico, threatening to cause flooding along in an area that has been suffering unusually dry weather.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 75mph Thursday morning and it was centered about 25 miles southeast of Cabo Corrientes, which juts into the Pacific below Puerto Vallarta. It was moving to the north-northwest at 8mph.
The forecast track showed the storm nearing the Los Cabos resort area at the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula Friday night and Saturday.
Forecasters said the storm could bring 5 to 10 inches of rain to parts of the region and Mexican officials voiced concern that some parts of southern Mexico, which have seen a lack of rainfall, could suffer dangerous flash floods and landslides unleashed by torrential rain.
In parts of Colima, Jalisco and Michoacan states, ‘it is forecast that the total accumulations of rain could … represent 40 per cent of the rain for an entire year in that part of the country,’ said Blanca Jiménez Cisneros, director-general of Mexico’s National Water Commission.
Classes were suspended in Colima as a precaution.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic region, Tropical Storm Jerry strengthened to top winds of 70mph on its way to becoming a hurricane.
The outermost Caribbean islands were already on a tropical storm watch Thursday morning as the storm approached.
Forecasters said Jerry could be near the northern Leeward Islands on Friday and pass north of Puerto Rico on Saturday.