Harvey Live Updates: Houston Grapples With Floods as Trump Visits Texas – New York Times

Trump visits Texas.

Mr. Trump arrived in Corpus Christi on Tuesday for a briefing on relief efforts, and then head to Austin for a tour of an emergency operations center and a briefing with state leaders. During a news conference on Monday, Mr. Trump also pledged the federal government’s full support to residents of Texas and Louisiana who are being battered by Harvey. Read more about his visit here.

A levee breach threatens area near Houston.

A levee on the Brazos River failed Tuesday morning near the community of Columbia Lakes, according to a message on Twitter from Brazoria County’s Twitter account, threatening that area and nearby small towns.

The breach affected an area, about 40 miles south-southwest of Houston, that was already under a mandatory evacuation order, but it was unknown how many people had defied the order and stayed behind. “There should be very few people left” in the affected area, said Matt Sebesta, the Brazoria County judge, to KPRC, a Houston television station.

A flood gauge upstream from the breach showed the Brazos was almost 10 feet above flood stage, the National Weather Service reported around 10 a.m. local time.

Reservoirs are reaching their capacity in Houston, too.

Water rose to the top of an emergency spillway at a major flood-control reservoir west of downtown Houston on Tuesday morning, threatening to add to flooding in the area.

Levels at the Addicks reservoir dam read slightly more than 108 feet, the height at which water should overtop the spillway at the dam’s northern end. But officials said observers had so far seen no sign of water going over the structure.

“We do expect it to happen,” said Mike Sterling, lead water manager for Army Corp of Engineers’ Southwest Division. Efforts to release water through the dam’s gates have not kept the reservoir level from rising.

Mr. Sterling said that most of the overflow should enter drainage ditches and eventually flow into Buffalo Bayou, which passes through downtown Houston. But rising water is putting several neighborhoods north of the reservoir, including Twin Lakes, Eldridge Park and Tanner Heights, at risk of more flooding.

Levels at another nearby reservoir, Barker, are increasing as well and its spillway may overtop soon, Corps officials say.

And in a cruel paradox, the city also has to worry about having enough water. Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant, one of three plants that supply water to the city, is flooded. While the system is still working, even with much of its equipment underwater, city officials are worried about their ability to keep it running.

Houston’s downtown convention center had filled with evacuees.

Thousands of people gathered on green cots under a constellation of fluorescent lights in the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Houston area’s largest shelter.

The place smelled like sweat. Flood-soaked residents shivered under blankets. On one wall, a mountain of donated clothing nearly touched the ceiling, and a snaking line of people with pets included a woman with a cage holding bunnies, chickens and at least one chihuahua. Toddlers screamed. Evacuees recounted the day’s horrors.

Amid the chaos, Red Cross workers circled like doting chaperones, carrying cots on their heads, doling out plastic baggies of candy and making sure everyone had the new sweatpants that fit them best. Strangers gathered around phone-charging stations. A mass of volunteers convened in the lobby, ready to assist.

And by the bathroom stood Estella Aguilar, 87 and 4-foot-6, wearing a red cashmere sweater and carrying a handbag. She’d arrived alone from her home in the city’s Second Ward after learning that Buffalo Bayou threatened to flood her out. “I can’t swim,” she said, “never learned.”

Ms. Aguilar surveyed the scene. “Everything is special when you’re in this predicament,” she said, rubbing her heart and watching the volunteers. “I love it. You see people helping other people.”

Arelis Vallecilla, her husband Chad Stearns and their six school-age children bedded down for the night in the convention center, after rising flood waters destroyed their home, their truck and virtually all their possessions. They woke Monday morning to find water had risen to the level of the mattresses they slept on.

“We lost everything,” said Ms. Vallecilla, 38. “We don’t know where we’re going to go and what happens next,” she said.

‘Mega-shelter’ in Dallas to take in thousands of evacuees

The City of Dallas on Tuesday was to open what it calls a “mega-shelter” — the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, outfitted to house up to 5,000 people. Dallas already had smaller shelters taking in people fleeing the storm, and Mayor Mike Rawlings said on Monday that the city has been asked to brace for “numbers that could be up in the tens of thousands.”

Shelters have opened as far inland as San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, more than 250 miles from the Gulf Coast, as well as in the storm-ravaged region. In Fort Worth, 30 miles west of Dallas, Mayor Betsy Price said city officials were preparing to activate three shelters at the state’s request.

State officials have estimated that shelters have taken in more than 30,000 storm evacuees, and an unknown number of others people have left their homes and made other arrangements. Hundreds of thousands of people live in coastal areas that are under evacuation orders.


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