Storm Harvey: Thousands are stranded on rooftops in Houston, seeking rescue from the floods caused by Hurricane Harvey

28 Aug 2017, 14:20 ( 2 Months ago)

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Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden to safety after rescuing them from their home

The US city of Houston is in the grip of the biggest storm in the history of the state of Texas. The storm has already dumped a historic 11 trillion gallons of water on Texas -  with another 27 inches of rain falling so far and another 23 inches expected to come within the next few days. Experts said the aftermath of the catastrophic hurricane could equal the level of destruction of Katrina in 2005. The storm has claimed the lives at least five people and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, revealed it would take the area years to recover from the storm which is the worst this decade. A record 30in of rain (75cm) has fallen on the city in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, turning roads into rivers.The area is expected to have received a year's rainfall within a week. Five people are reported dead. Helicopters have plucked victims from rooftops.With rescue services overstretched as the rain continues, many people are having to fend for themselves.Hospitals have been evacuated and thousands of people are without electricity. Many schools are closed - as are the two main airports, with runways completely flooded.Up to 2,000 people have been rescued in and around Houston, as the storm continues to batter Texas with heavy rains.There are reports of possible deaths in submerged vehicles, but investigations continue, Chief Darryl Coleman of the Harris County Sheriff's Office said.

The US National Weather Service (NWS) says conditions are "unprecedented". A "flash flood emergency" in in force across the Houston area, with travel near impossible.One woman posted a picture online of two alligators in her backyard, while other photos show people water-skiing near the centre of the city.Like Houston, the island city of Galveston was also hit by "epic catastrophic flooding" overnight, the NWS added.An inundated care home in Dickinson, about 30 miles (50 km) south-east of Houston, is reported to have been evacuated by helicopter after an image of several elderly women sitting in a lounge in waist-deep water went viral on social media. President Donald Trump is due to visit Texas on Tuesday to see the damage for himself. He signed a disaster proclamation on Friday, paving the way for federal cash to go towards the relief effort.

Insurance experts quoted by the Reuters news agency say it could equal the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, widely reported to be the most expensive natural disaster in US history.It was estimated that Katrina caused about $15bn of flood damage in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi.But experts say at the moment it is too early to make detailed estimates of the damage in Texas.Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has urged residents not to call emergency services unless their situation is life-threatening and they need to be rescued.Don't get on the road. Don't assume this storm is over," he said.