Floodwaters start receding around Houston area as recovery begins following rescues and evacuations


Associated Press

HOUSTON — Floodwaters in the Houston area began to recede on Monday, allowing residents to begin returning to their homes and assess damages after days of heavy rainfall that pummeled the area and led to hundreds of rescues — including people who were stranded on rooftops.

Officials in Harris County, where Houston is located, reported no deaths or major injuries from the flooding. But in North Texas, a 4-year-old boy died after riding in a car that was swept away in fast waters, authorities said.

After days of heavy rainfall in the Houston area and other parts of Southeast Texas, the forecast on Monday called for mainly sunny skies with a slight chance of showers.

“We can absolutely see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ve made it through the worst of this weather event,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s top elected official, told reporters Monday.

Areas near Lake Livingston, located northeast of Houston, received upwards of 23 inches of rain over the past week, National Weather Service meteorologist Jimmy Fowler said. Areas in northeastern Harris County, the nation’s third-largest county, had a range of between 6 inches to almost 17 inches of rain in that same period.

Hidalgo said 233 people and 186 pets had been rescued in Harris County over the last few days. Active rescues stopped Monday, and officials were transitioning from a response phase into recovery mode and cleanup, she said.

While many of the impacted neighborhoods and subdivisions along the San Jacinto River in Harris County were accessible on Monday, others remained cut off by flooded roadways.

Officials were still assessing how many homes were damaged.

“We’re a resilient community. I know we’ll continue to recover from this,” said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

At least five school districts around the Houston area were closed on Monday due to the flooding.

Houston is one of the most flood-prone metro areas in the country. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 dumped historic rainfall that flooded thousands of homes and resulted in more than 60,000 rescues.

Most of the city of Houston was not heavily impacted by last week’s rainfall, except for the neighborhood of Kingwood, where some homes and roads flooded.

Various counties and communities north and east of the Houston area also continued to recover on Monday.

“These folks have suffered much, people,” Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace said Sunday during a Facebook livestream as he rode a boat through a rural flooded neighborhood. Partially submerged cars and street signs were around him.

In Johnson County, south of Fort Worth, a 4-year-old boy died when he was swept away after the vehicle he was riding in became stuck in swift-moving water near the community of Lillian just before 2 a.m. Sunday, an official said. The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office said the cause of death of the child, who would have turned 5 later this month, was drowning.

Storms brought 9 inches of rain in a span of six to eight hours in some areas from central Texas to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Stalley said.

Greg Moss, 68, stayed put in his recreational vehicle on Sunday after leaving his home in the community of Channelview in eastern Harris County near the San Jacinto River. A day earlier, he had packed up many of his belongings and left before the road to his home flooded.

“I would be stuck for four days,” Moss said. “So now at least I can go get something to eat.”


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