The director of the National Weather Service is warning that the catastrophic flooding that’s overwhelming Houston and other parts of Texas will worsen in the coming days and then be slow to recede once Harvey finally moves on.
Director Louis Uccellini said during a news conference Monday that up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain could fall in the coming days, on top of the more than 30 inches (76 centimeters) some places have already seen.
He says some of the heaviest rainfall today, at a pace of 6 inches (15 centimeters) an hour, will fall east of Houston in places such as Beaumont and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
He adds that while Houston is experiencing a break from the rain Monday morning, heavy rainfall is forecast to return later in the day into Tuesday.
The Houston police chief is concerned about the prospect of more flooding, but is “keeping (his) fingers crossed” that the rain will subside.
In an interview Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Chief Art Acevedo says drainage is a concern.
He says he’s “not sure where the water is going because it’s just so much that we can’t really absorb more in the ground at this point. … We have way too much water and not enough places for it to drain.”
He says officers have voiced frustration that they don’t have enough high-water vehicles to quickly help everyone who is stranded.
He also warned any criminals who might try to take advantage of the disaster that his force has already arrested half a dozen people for looting.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is asking for volunteers to help Texas recover from Harvey.
William “Brock” Long, FEMA administrator, told a news conference in Washington Monday that “we need citizens to be involved,” because the storm and resulting flooding is greater than the government can handle.
Long urges individuals and organizations to check the website www.nvoad.org or call 1-800-621-FEMA to find out how to help. He’s asking for financial donations and for people “to figure out how to get involved as we help Texas find a new normal.”
A National Weather Service official says the peak flooding from the Houston-area storm is expected to max out Wednesday and Thursday, but said the floods will be slow to recede and that catastrophic flooding will persist.
Harvey continues to head back toward the Gulf of Mexico at a slow pace.
The National Hurricane Center says in its 4 a.m. CDT update that the tropical storm that made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane, dropping heavy rain in the Houston area, still has sustained winds of up to 40 mph (65 kph) and is centered 20 miles (30 kilometers) east of Victoria, Texas, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) southwest of Houston. It continues to creep to the southeast at 3 mph (4.8 kph).
That means it remains virtually stalled near the coast and continues to drop heavy rain on the Houston and Galveston areas. In the past 48 hours, numerous spots in the region have measured more than 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rain.
The hurricane center says Harvey’s center was expected to drift off the middle Texas coast on Monday and meander offshore through Tuesday before beginning “a slow northeastward motion.” The center says those in the upper Texas coast and in southwestern Louisiana should continue to monitor Harvey’s progress.
Houston officials continue to urge people to shelter in place and stay off flooded roadways as Harvey continues to batter the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Public Information Officer Keith Smith also says Sunday that rescue efforts continue and now are focused on those who feel trapped inside a home or building.
Smith says the city’s 911 emergency response system has been challenged by sharply increased call volumes since the tropical storm made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane. He says during a typical 24-hour period, the emergency response system receives about 8,000 calls. But during a 17-hour period following Harvey’s landfall, more than 56,000 911 calls were received.
As the nation’s fourth-largest city braced for more rain and rescues, officials started releasing even more water from reservoirs overwhelmed by Harvey even though the move aimed at protecting downtown Houston could make already devastating flooding worse around thousands of homes.
The strategic engineering move began early Monday. Harvey, which made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm, sent devastating floods pouring into Houston Sunday as rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground and overwhelmed rescuers who could not keep up with the constant calls for help.
Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District, says residents affected by the release should pack what’s needed and leave when the sun comes up.