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Evacuations ordered, homes damaged in Texas as rivers surge to Hurricane Harvey levels


Flooding is intensifying in Texas following strong storms and heavy rain, washing away vehicles, damaging homes and triggering evacuations.

This week’s storms were just the latest in a series of brutal weather events that have hit the state since early April. Dozens of tornadoes struck from the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast, parts of the state were hit by softball-sized hail, and months of rain fell in East Texas by at -intense blows, causing rivers to rise to levels not seen since the devastating disaster. flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Some communities north of Houston received nearly two months of rain Thursday. This rainfall plunged roads underwater and forced rivers to overflow, leading to evacuations and water rescues.

Here’s what’s happening in South Texas Friday night:

San Jacinto County, 60 miles north of Houston: Approximately 100 to 200 homes are affected by floodwaters and mandatory evacuations are in effect. The event is “85 percent worse than Hurricane Harvey,” Emmitt Eldridge, the county’s emergency management coordinator, told CNN. Eldridge said that since they are downstream from Dallas along the Trinity River, “we expect to see a lot more water” due to additional precipitation. “Whatever they take care of, we do,” he added. According to Eldridge, there have been at least 58 water rescues in the county so far. Further rain is expected in the region next week.

Walker County, about 70 miles northwest of Houston: Authorities are also calling the flooding historic. “This is a historic flood for Walker County. We experienced more flooding from this event than from Hurricane Harvey,” Sherri Pegoda, Walker County deputy emergency management coordinator, told CNN. According to Pegoda, two communities are underwater along the Trinity River and are only accessible via high-water vehicles. “Almost all roads in Walker County were completely submerged Monday night and Tuesday,” Pegoda said. “We still have about 43 roads flooded, several major washouts and a few bridges that have been compromised. » At least 42 flood rescues have been carried out in the county since April 28, she added.

Polk County, about 80 miles northeast of Houston: About 700 homes were flooded, according to emergency management officials, who warned that additional rainfall could keep flood levels rising in the coming days. A total of 1,000 homes are in a mandatory evacuation zone in the county, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy told CNN. A flood warning remains in effect Friday for the county. Judge said they were concerned and keeping an eye on what was happening to the north of the county with the flooding because it would impact the area. “Due to continued rainfall in East Texas and rising stream and river levels, flood levels may increase. Please remain aware of changes in flood levels along the Trinity River and ALL low levels. If you wish to evacuate, do so now! the Office of Emergency Management recently said in a Facebook post.

Harris County, which includes the city of Houston and several northern suburbs: Mandatory evacuations have been in place since Thursday for residents on the east side of the East Fork of the San Jacinto River. The river reached a major flood stage on Thursday and is expected to peak Saturday morning within a few feet of Harvey’s record high. “We want you to get out of this area…this is a life-threatening situation,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a news conference. conference. The predicted rising water level will impact tall structures and could reach roofs or power lines, according to Hidalgo.

In suburban Crosby, Harris County, a school bus driver spotted flooding on a road that had not yet been barricaded, stopped the bus and ushered the middle and high school students on board out the door rear, according to a school release. district. Another bus took the students to school, where they received breakfast and dry clothes, the statement added.

• Liberty County, about 45 miles northeast of Houston: The Coast Guard transported a 12-hour-old baby girl by helicopter from Cleveland, Texas, on Friday. The girl was suffering from low oxygen levels at the Texas Emergency Hospital, which does not have a neonatal intensive care unit, according to a Coast Guard news release. Due to flooding, she could not be transported by ground ambulance. The helicopter took the girl and her mother to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where the baby was reported to be in stable condition, the statement added.

Voluntary evacuations due to flooding also took place in Montgomery County, just north of Harris County.

The drone brothers

Flooding in Livingston, Texas.

Disaster declarations are active in more than a third of Texas counties after Gov. Greg Abbott expanded storm-related declarations in response to flooding, according to a news release. Additional counties may be added in the coming days, especially with more storms forecast.

Parts of East Texas have received three to seven times their usual rainfall over the past three to four weeks. Repeated episodes of heavy rains have soaked the soil, making many areas extremely prone to flash and river flooding. Nearly a foot of rain fell in places between Thursday and Friday morning, dealing the final blow. Periods of rain will continue through Friday evening and an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain is possible.

The worst flooding is limited to southeast Texas, where at least a dozen river gauges — including parts of the San Jacinto and Trinity rivers — are in major flood stage, the highest level, as of Friday morning. Several other locations are expected to experience major flooding by the weekend and could reach or exceed record levels set during Harvey.

Hurricane Harvey caused widespread flooding in Houston after dropping 30 to 40 inches of rain across the metro in just 48 hours. While the ongoing flooding this week is notable, it is much less widespread and occurring north of where the worst of Harvey’s rains fell.

As torrential rains drenched East Texas, severe thunderstorms sparked tornadoes north and south of the Abilene area in West Texas. According to the Storm Prediction Center, eight tornadoes were reported Thursday.

A “large and extremely dangerous” tornado touched down in the towns of Hodges and Hawley – about 10 miles north of Abilene – Thursday evening.

Around 30 homes in Hawley were destroyed by the tornado’s winds, with entire sections of some homes completely exposed. Cars in the area were also damaged by flying debris. There were “numerous” injuries, but no deaths Friday morning, Hawley Police Chief Brad Wilson told CNN.

At least one area school district is allowing students to study from home or take time to recover Friday, following Thursday night’s devastating tornado.

“The Hawley community has been hit pretty hard and we have several families who have lost their homes,” the Hawley Independent School District said in a Facebook post.


A house damaged by storms Thursday between Hawley and Hodges, Texas.

Additional severe thunderstorms are possible in parts of Texas Friday afternoon and evening. A Level 3 out of 5 severe thunderstorm risk is in place for parts of west-central Texas, including hard-hit areas Thursday.

CNN’s Andy Rose, Joe Sutton and Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.

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