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US Texas flooding: Imelda rains, flooding 'worse than (Hurricane) Harvey'

21:11  19 september  2019
21:11  19 september  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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First responders were overwhelmed by 911 calls for high water rescues Thursday as Tropical Depression Imelda drenched East Texas with unrelenting rain measured in feet.

Authorities in Jefferson County, east of Houston, said some localized areas have seen more than 40 inches of rain in the last three days. More was coming.

"The Flash Flood Emergency has been continued and expanded," the National Weather Service office in Houston said. "This is an incredibly dangerous, life-threatening situation."

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George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston ordered a full ground stop, then struggled with arrival delays averaging almost four hours, the FAA reported. Metro Houston shut down public transportation, and Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that "high water assets" were deployed in parts of the city.

a flock of sheep in a parking lot: Flooded streets in Sargent, Texas on Sept. 19, 2019, caused by rain from Tropical Depression Imelda.© Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle via AP Flooded streets in Sargent, Texas on Sept. 19, 2019, caused by rain from Tropical Depression Imelda.

The storms entering Houston were driving wind gusts of up to 50 mph, the National Weather Service said. The swollen grounds will make trees more susceptible to being knocked over, and flash flooding remained the main concern, the weather service warned.

Imelda drenched the Jefferson County town of Hamshire with more than 33.5 inches of rain – including 25 inches of rain in 12 hours – AccuWeather reported. AccuWeather meteorologists predicted localized rain totals could reach an astonishing 55 inches before Imelda's remnants drift away on Friday.

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"It's bad. Homes that did not flood in Harvey are flooding now," Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick told the Beaumont Enterprise.

Hurricane Harvey slammed the state in August 2017, a Category 4 beast when it made landfall in Southeast Texas. Parts of Beaumont were devastated by the killer storm.

Two years later, areas of Beaumont found themselves again submerged under more than 20 inches of rain. And Jefferson County authorities warned that up to 10 more inches could fall.

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Lamar University shut down for the day. Police warned residents not to leave flooded homes or drive on flooded roads. They also pleaded for patience.

"The 911 operations center has experienced a heavy call load with over 250 high water rescues and 270 evacuation requests," police tweeted. "If there is an immediate threat to life safety, call 911."

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A few miles away in Winnie, dramatic photos and video showed vehicles almost completely covered by water. Evacuations were taking place at Riceland Medical Center, swamped by more than 4 inches of water.

Chambers County Sheriff's Office deployed high water rescue vehicles and airboats to pluck residents from flooded homes.

"Winnie is being devastated by rising water," Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said. Mo Danishmund, chief financial officer for Riceland Healthcare, told the Houston Chronicle the flooding was "worse than Hurricane Harvey."

High schooler saves woman and toddler from Imelda flooding

  High schooler saves woman and toddler from Imelda flooding Other Texans used a rope and hammer to rescue a trapped truck driverCities are now submerged under water and some areas are seeing upwards of five feet of rain. At least two deaths have been blamed on the storm, and crews performed more than 1,000 fire rescues – but police and fire rescue teams also had to rely on good-hearted citizens to help others escape danger. Just north of Houston in Aldine, high school football player Jayden Payne jumped into a car to help save a woman and her toddler after she drove her SUV into a ditch with about 15 feet of water.

The University of Houston delayed its opening until 10 a.m. and said it was monitoring conditions.

"Anyone currently on campus is encouraged to remain here until conditions improve," an alert on the school's website warned. "If you must travel, use discretion."

Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Jerry strengthened into a hurricane Thursday as it trekked westward toward Puerto Rico along a path already followed this year by Hurricanes Dorian and Humberto. The National Hurricane Center said Jerry's center was expected to pass north of Puerto Rico on Saturday and east of the southeastern Bahamas on Sunday.

Hurricane Humberto, meanwhile, was beginning to weaken after lashing Bermuda on Wednesday. The hurricane center said the Category 3 storm was likely to become a post-tropical cyclone by Friday.

Contributing: Doug Stanglin

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas flooding: Imelda rains, flooding 'worse than (Hurricane) Harvey'

Aftermath of Imelda still has people and livestock in southeast Texas seeking higher ground .
For most people in southeast Texas not dealing with flood-damaged property, Imelda is a slightly distant memory, with the floodwaters largely receded. But in many areas, especially near Beaumont, some roadways and fields are still underwater. Recently, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Beaumont office posted this video on Twitter of rancher herding their cattle out of flooded fields. "We have seen an issue with livestock seeking higher ground along roadways," the TxDOT tweet states. "Please use caution while traveling. Ranchers are busy trying to herd them to safer locations.

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