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Storm Harvey: Texas governor says conditions bad and growing worse

He said National Guard troops were deployed overnight to Houston, with boats, helicopters and high-clearance vehicles to help in rescues.

world Updated: Aug 27, 2017 20:17 IST
Agence France-Presse, Washington
Storm Harvey,Harvey,Texas governor
Two kayakers try to beat the current pushing them down an overflowing Brays Bayou along S Braeswood in Houston, Texas on Sunday(AP)

Texas governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday that conditions on the storm-ravaged coast were “bad and growing worse,” as torrential rains continued to batter Houston and nearby areas.

Abbott offered no casualty figures, saying “We will see.” So far, two deaths have been officially confirmed.

But he added that search-and-rescue teams have been going door-to-door through some of the worst-hit neighbourhoods. He said National Guard troops were deployed overnight to Houston, with boats, helicopters and high-clearance vehicles to help in rescues.

“There were a lot of warnings to evacuate,” he said, adding that those warnings “likely saved a whole lot of lives.”

Though Harvey has been downgraded from hurricane to tropical-storm status, it is expected to continue dumping up to two feet of rain in the area. It has caused rivers to overflow and necessitated more than 1,000 swift-water rescues.

“Now, of course, we are dealing with the damage around the Houston area because of the flooding,” Abbott said on Fox News Sunday.

“It is large and growing larger -- it will be in the billions of dollars but we really will not be able to tell for the next couple of days.”

A damaged two-storey apartment building after Storm Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on Saturday. (AFP)

Houston is the fourth-largest US city, and surrounding Harris County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. The combination of dense population and low-lying elevations leave it particularly vulnerable to Harvey’s ravages.

If there was any silver lining to Abbott’s assessment, it was that the petroleum industry in the area -- including half the nation’s oil-refining capacity -- was “very well prepared” for the storm.

“They hunkered down and were able to contain the facilities and they have the ability to ratchet up back up there quickly.” he said. “This will be probably a one- or two-week downturn.”

The governor also praised President Donald Trump’s role, saying his federal emergency declaration was the quickest Abbott had seen.

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 20:16 IST