Deaths reported as Harvey submerges Houston, Texas
Monday, August 28, 2017, 8:15 PM - Hurricane Harvey has brought incredible devastation to parts of Texas over the weekend, with deaths reported and travel paralyzed.
The storm reached Category 4 status late week before making landfall between Port Aransas and Port O'Conner in Texas on Friday night.
As of Monday evening, Harvey is a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 75 km/h. The storm is slowly moving to the east-southeast at 6 km/h and continues to dump heavy rainfall.
Hundreds of millimetres of rain have drenched Texas so far, with more still to come. On the forecast track, the centre of Harvey is expected to push offshore of the middle and upper coasts of Texas through Tuesday night, then move inland over the northwestern Gulf coast by Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
"This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced," the U.S. National Weather Service said as the catastrophe unfolded.
IN TEXAS: Harvey's downpours strain water systems
Hurricane Harvey Highlights:
• Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane at its strongest, with winds of around 215 km/h, prior to landfall overnight Friday
• Harvey now a slow-moving tropical storm, set to move offshore before making another landfall by Wednesday.
• 380-760 mm of rain by Wednesday, locally higher amounts of more than 1,000 mm possible
• At least five people confirmed dead, thousands of water rescues underway
• Life-threatening flooding ongoing, state of emergency declared
Thousands of people fled their homes as the storm approached, but in Houston itself, no evacuation order was given, a decision defended over the weekend by its mayor, Sylvester Turner.
"You literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road," Turner said at a press conference, according to CNN. "If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare."
More than 2,000 water rescues were carried out over the weekend, with more still expected as the rain continues to fall and rivers and drainage systems continue to burst their banks. At one point, authorities asked people not to take shelter in their home's attic, but to get on the roof instead.
At least five people have been confirmed to have died as a result of the storm so far, according to the National Weather Service. The Houston Chronicle says the first fatality was a woman who apparently drove her vehicle into floodwaters and was swept away while trying to escape through the sunroof.
However, it's likely that more deaths will be reported as the week passes and rescuers penetrate deeper into the worst-hit areas, and the flood emergency continues.