USA – 2 Dead in Texas as Rain and Flooding From Storm Imelda Continue

At least 2 people have died and hundreds rescued after Tropical Depression Imelda dumped further heavy rain in parts of southeast Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster in 13 counties.

Flood rescues in Harris County, Texas, after torrential rain from Storm Imelda, September 2019. Photo: Harris County Sheriffs Office

Imelda made landfall as a Tropical Storm near Freeport, Texas, on 17 September. It soon weakened to a tropical depression but brought torrential rainfall. National Weather Service (NWS) Houston reported rainfall rates of 2-3 inches (50 to 76mm) per hour.

By 18 September roads in at least 17 locations across southeast Texas had been flooded, including in Lake Jackson, Beaumont, Cleveland, Corrigan, Freeport, Houston and Galveston. Schools were closed in the Houston and Galveston areas and some public transportation services in Galveston were suspended.

Further rainfall has fallen since then causing catastrophic flooding. National Weather Service (NWS) in Houston said unofficial rainfall totals for a 60 hour period to 19 September showed Fannet in Jefferson County received 43.15 inches (1,096mm) of rain, making Imelda the 7th wettest tropical cyclone in United States history as well as the 4th wettest tropical cyclone ever to impact the state of Texas.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston recorded an all-time September daily record of 9.20 inches (233.68mm). A record rainfall for 19 September was also observed at Galveston with 5.70 inches (144.78mm), breaking the old record of 5.11 inches (129.8mm) set in 1979.

The heavy rain caused rivers to break their banks. NWS Houston said on 19 September that “Minor to major river flooding continues across the Trinity, San Jacinto and Harris County bayous.”

Rainfall from Storm imelda in a 60 hour period to 19 September. Image: NWS Houston
River flooding in southeast Texas after Storm Imelda, 19 September 2019. Image: NWS Houston

State of Disaster

Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange and San Jacinto counties on 19 September.

“The State of Texas is working closely with local officials and emergency personnel to provide the resources they need to keep Texans safe from Tropical Storm Imelda,” said Governor Abbott. “I thank our first responders who are acting swiftly to help the communities that are facing this severe weather event. I urge all those in the path of this storm to take the necessary precautions and heed all warnings from local officials.”

Hundreds Rescued

Parts the road network around Houston are completely inundated. Local media reported that about 8 miles of the westbound lane of Interstate 10 was flooded.

Houston Office of Emergency Management ordered residents to avoid driving and stay indoors. Public transport has been suspended in the city. Flights were grounded at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner said via Social Media: “If you’re in school, if you’re at work, of you’re at home, stay there. If you are on the road look out for high water and if possible pull over to a safe place.”

As of 20 September weather-related fatalities had been reported in Jefferson County (1) and Harris County (1), which includes Houston.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office said they had fielded 992 weather-related calls for service, including 407 high-water rescues, 22 major accidents and 323 stranded vehicles. Over 300 people were also rescued in Chambers County, situated east of Houston, where the city of Winne has been severely affected.

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