Houston floods expected to worsen as flooding from Harvey ramps up

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Flood waters cover the area of FM 1463 at IH-10 in Fort Bend County, Texas, U.S. April 19, 2016.  Texas DOT-Houston/Handout via Reuters

Disastrous flooding in the US state of Texas is fully expected to get significantly worse over the coming days, with waters continuing to rise following a storm of historic proportions.
A record 30 inches of rain – 75cm – has already fallen on the city of Houston at time of writing (29th August 2017) as a result of Hurricane Harvey, which has transformed roads into rivers.
However, it’s fully expected to get a lot worse before it gets better, as forecasters are predicting that the total rainfall could potentially almost double by the end of the week coming.
The levels of crisis have prompted US President Donald Trump to get involved, with the Republican promising swift action in order to try and help those affected. Mr Trump is set to visit Texas on the 29th August, and has also signed off an emergency declaration for Louisiana, with the neighbouring state at risk of being hit by similar floods.
The hurricane itself, Harvey, was diagnosed as a category-four hurricane on the 25th August, with officials declaring the floods as unprecedented. Shortly afterwards, it was downgraded to a tropical storm.
Over 3000 people have been rescued both in and around Houston, which is the fourth-largest city in the US, with helicopters picking up victims from rooftops. Around 6.6 million people live in the metropolitan area of the city.
Despite the heroic efforts of the emergency services, at least nine people have been reported as dead following incidents directly related to the storm.
Governor of Texas Greg Abbott has now activated the whole Texas National Guard in order to help the national forces in search and rescue operations, with the guard containing around 12,000 ‘civilian soldiers’, as the area itself is expected to have had a whole year’s rainfall within the space of seven days.
Officials are expecting at least half a million disaster victims to seek out assistance within Texas, while 30,000 people are set to be housed in emergency shelters.
In an attempt to combat the floods, army engineers have started to release water from two dams which control water flowing along a major river into the centre of Houston.
The reasoning behind opening the Addicks and Barker dams is to stop water flowing into neighbouring communities according to officials, however this in itself is a risk as it could cause additional damage down the Buffalo Bayou.
According to the National Weather Service, the worst of the floods are expected to hit on Wednesday the 30th and Thursday the 31st, however there remains a significant amount of uncertainty regarding the storm’s path.
Both of Houston’s main airports have been shut due to runways being completely flooded, while many schools are also closed.

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