Catastrophic flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Harvey inundated Houston on Sunday, forcing residents of the fourth most populous US city to flee their homes in boats or hunker down in anticipation of more days of “unprecedented” rainfall.
Harvey came ashore late on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years and has killed at least two people. The death toll is expected to rise as the storm triggers additional tidal surges and tornadoes, with parts of the region expected to see a year’s worth of rainfall in the space of a week.
The storm caused chest-deep flooding on some streets in Houston as rivers and channels overflowed their banks. More than 30 inches (76 cm) of rain had fallen in parts of Houston in the past 48 hours, the National Weather Service said on Sunday, adding that more was on the way.
“What we’re seeing is the most devastating flood event in Houston’s recorded history. We’re seeing levels of rainfall that are unprecedented,” said Steve Bowen, chief meteorologist at reinsurance firm Aon Benfield.
Total precipitation could reach 50 inches (127 cm) in some coastal areas of Texas by the end of the week, or the average rainfall for an entire year.
The center of Harvey was still about 125 miles (200 km) from Houston and was forecast to arc slowly toward the city through Wednesday. Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday because its winds had slowed, but days of torrential rain are forecast. Texas Governor Greg Abbott told a news conference that new tornado warnings were expected later on Sunday.
President Donald Trump plans to go to Texas on Tuesday to survey damage from the storm, a White House spokeswoman said on Sunday.
A man walks down the median as trucks navigate floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey along Interstate 610 Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP)