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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Harvey makes second landfall, Indian among 18 dead as Houston mayor announces curfew

Damage has been estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making Harvey one of the costliest US natural disasters.

world Updated: Aug 30, 2017 15:45 IST
Local residents are evacuated on an air boat operated by volunteers from San Antonio on August 29, 2017.
Local residents are evacuated on an air boat operated by volunteers from San Antonio on August 29, 2017.(AFP)

Tropical storm Harvey made landfall again on Wednesday near the Texas-Louisiana border, adding more rain after a record downpour that has caused catastrophic flooding and paralysed the city of Houston.

The storm that first came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least 18 people, including an Indian student. It has also forced tens of thousands to leave their deluged homes.

Damage has been estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest US natural disasters.

There is some relief in sight for Houston, the fourth most populous US city, with forecasters saying five days of torrential rain may come to an end as the storm picks up speed and leaves the Gulf of Mexico region later in the day.

Harvey, which made landfall west of Cameron, Louisiana on Wednesday, was expected to produce an additional 7.5 to 15.24 cm of rain to an area east of Houston as well as southwestern Louisiana, where some areas have already seen more than 17 inches of rain.

It is projected to weaken as it moves inland to the northeast, the National Hurricane Centre said.

“We aren’t going to be dealing with it for too much longer. It’s going to pick up the pace and get out of here,” said Donald Jones, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

But nearly a third of Harris County, home to Houston, was under water, an area 15 times the size of Manhattan, according to the Houston Chronicle newspaper. It may take days for all flood waters, which have spilled over dams and pushed levees to their limits, to recede, local officials said.

City officials were preparing to temporarily house some 19,000 people, with thousands more expected to flee. As of Tuesday morning, nearly 50,000 homes had suffered flood damage, Texas officials said, and the tally is certain to rise.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner announced a curfew from midnight to 5 am amid reports of looting, armed robberies and people impersonating police officers.

US President Donald Trump visited Texas on Tuesday to survey damage from the first major natural disaster to test his leadership in a crisis. He said he was pleased with the response, but it was too soon for a victory lap.  

“We won’t say congratulations,” he said. “We don’t want to do that...We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished.”

Moody’s Analytics is estimating the economic cost from Harvey for southeast Texas at $51 billion to $75 billion.

The National Hurricane Centre on Tuesday said a record 131.78 cm rain had fallen in Texas due to Harvey, a record for any storm in the continental United States.

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 15:45 IST