HOUSTON – Tropical Storm Harvey was set to dump more rain on Houston on Monday, adding to catastrophic flooding that paralyzed the fourth most populous U.S. city and prompted mass evacuations in nearby counties as rivers hit crests not seen for centuries.
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. It has since sat in the same general area around Texas’ Gulf of Mexico Coast where it is forecast to remain for several more days, drenching parts of the region with a year’s worth of rainfall in the span of a week.
Schools, airports and office buildings in Houston were ordered shut on Monday as scores of roads were turned into rivers by floods and chest-high water filled numerous neighborhoods in the low-lying city.
Torrential rain from Harvey hit areas more than 150 miles (240 km) away, swelling rivers upstream and causing a surge that was heading toward the Houston area.
More than 50,000 people were ordered to leave parts of Fort Bend County, about 35 miles (55 km) southwest of Houston, as the Brazos River was set to crest at a record high of 59 feet (18 m) this week, 14 feet (4.3 m) above its flood stage.
Brazos County Judge Robert Hebert told reporters the forecast crest represents a high not seen in at least 800 years.
Steve Bowen, chief meteorologist at reinsurance firm Aon Benfield, said: “What we’re seeing is the most devastating flood event in Houston’s recorded history. We’re seeing levels of rainfall that are unprecedented.”
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, forecasters said.