CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — Harris County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Spencer says flooding throughout the county that includes Houston and the region is so widespread that it’s “difficult to pinpoint the worst area.”
He says authorities are prioritizing hundreds of phones calls for help to ensure life-and-death situations “are at the top of the list.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” he says.
Spencer says the department has high-water vehicles and airboats but “certainly not enough.” He says officials are encouraged that rescue teams from the National Guard and state agencies have also been deployed.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says Hurricane Harvey is a “landmark event” and the federal agency will be in the areas worst affected “for years.”
Brock Long says nearly 5,000 people from the federal government are doing search and rescue missions, helping to restore power and supporting what he calls “mass care missions.”
Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Long said: “We expect a huge mass care mission today, of people flocking to shelters, if they can get to shelters.”
SUNDAY 9:15 a.m.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says that boats and helicopters are being deployed to help with swift-water rescues in the Houston area and parts of East Texas also facing flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Abbott, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” said: “We’re measuring rain these days not in inches but in feet.”
He tells ABC’s “This Week” that they “could not be more appreciative” of what the federal government and President Trump have done to help as Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.
Abbott said on CNN’s “State of the Nation” he’s talked to Trump several times and the head of FEMA. He says, “We’ve made multiple requests and we’re getting absolutely everything we need.”
Abbott said Harris County, which includes Houston, will soon be included in a federal disaster declaration as a result of Harvey.
SUNDAY 8:25 a.m.
President Donald Trump says he will be traveling to Texas “as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption” in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Trump tweeted that the “focus must be life and safety.”
At least two people are dead and more than a dozen injured due to the storm that has battered the region, including the cities of Corpus Christi and Houston.
Trump has been complimenting the response to the storm on his Twitter feed, commending “Great coordination between agencies at all levels of government.”
Trump adds that: “Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground.”
The storm could linger for days in the region and could unload as much as 40 inches of rain on cities including Houston.
SUNDAY 8:15 a.m.
The U.S. Coast Guard says it’s received more than 300 requests for urban search and rescue in the Houston area.
The Coast Guard has five helicopters working the emergency calls and is asking for additional helicopters from New Orleans to help.
Officials are advising people in dire straits to get to the roofs of their homes and mark them somehow to be seen from the air. They’re suggesting people wave sheets or towels.
SUNDAY 7:45 a.m.
Flooding in some parts of the county that includes the city of Houston is so bad that residents are being urged to seek refuge on their roofs.
Harris County Flood Control District official Jeff Lindner says people inundated by rising waters shouldn’t crawl into attics of their homes but should get on top of them.
He says rainfall of more than 4 inches per hour has sent water higher than in recent Houston floods side and are exceeding levels seen in Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001.
Lindner says areas south of the city appear hard-hit and some flooding is reported in downtown Houston and in the Texas Medical Center, which was devastated in Allison.
He calls Harvey “a different animal” from Allison and a “historic situation.”
He says he’s most amazed that he’s getting reports “of water into second-story of apartments and homes.” Considering Houston’s flat terrain, “it’s very rare to get that depth of water.”
SUNDAY 6:20 a.m.
Authorities say rescue attempts continue in Houston for those stranded inside flooded homes and submerged vehicles in the wake of Harvey.
The Houston Chronicle reports that hundreds of calls have been fielded for water rescues as of early Sunday, including Houston police officials who evacuated two apartment complexes and rescued more than 50 children.
Meanwhile, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Sunday continued urging residents via Twitter to “shelter in place” and stay off rain-swollen roadways.
Gonzalez actively used Twitter overnight to field assistance for those trapped inside water-soaked homes, attics and vehicles. Those appealing for assistance or being steered to help via Gonzalez’s Twitter feed included a person suffering “cardiac-arrest,” and a woman who posted: “I have 2 children with me and the water is swallowing us up. Please send help.”
Gonzalez at one point appealed for calm and patience, saying officials were “trying to make it to everyone as best we can.”
Turner’s official Twitter account said “911 services at capacity. If u can shelter in place do so, a few inches in your home is not imminent danger. Only call if in imminent danger.”
The National Hurricane Center says Harvey continues to cause “catastrophic flooding in southeastern Texas.”
The hurricane center says in its 4 a.m. Sunday update that the tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (72.42 kph) and remains stationary about 45 miles (72.42 kilometers) northwest of Victoria, Texas.
A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning also are both in effect for Port O’Connor to Sargent. The hurricane center says a storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline.
The center says Harvey is likely to weaken to a tropical depression later Sunday. Harvey made landfall Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says a Flash Flood Emergency over west and central Harris County, where Houston is located, as well as for eastern Fort Bend and northern Brazoria counties remains in effect until 6:15 a.m. Sunday, calling it a “Particularly Dangerous Situation.”
Ways you can help those in Houston affected by Hurricane Harvey:
Two organizations: American Red Cross and Salvation Army – are leading efforts and either or both would be worthy of promoting. Cash donations are the quickest way for your listeners to make an impact.
AMERICAN RED CROSS
Visit redcross.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Make a financial donation by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY, text STORM to 51555 or visit salvationarmy.com.