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Harvey Live Updates: Waters Still Rising as Death Toll From Storm Reaches 30

Harvey Live Updates: Waters Still Rising as Death Toll From Storm Reaches 30

Juan Jaramillo, from Houston, went for a morning jog to survey the damage along Buffalo Bayou on Tuesday. CreditAndrew Burton for The New York Times

Emergency workers rescued many more soaked and frightened people in southeast Texas on Tuesday as floodwaters continued to rise and officials counseled patience, warning that conditions would not improve soon.

The slow-moving, record-shattering tropical storm Harvey battered the region for a sixth straight day and began to move into southwest Louisiana. With hundreds of thousands of people under evacuation orders, shelters filled to bursting with people who craved some news about the safety of their loved ones and the state of their homes.

For now, the city’s focus “will continue to be on rescue,” and not on damage assessment — much less recovery — Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, said at a news conference.

Here is the latest:

• Local officials have reported at least 30 confirmed and suspected flood-related deaths.

• Mr. Turner imposed a citywide curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. until further notice.

• Parts of the Houston area set a record for rainfall from a single storm anywhere in the continental United States, with a top reading on Tuesday afternoon, since the storm began, of 51.88 inches.

• The Houston Police Department has rescued more than 3,500 people from flooding, Chief Art Acevedo said. The city fire chief, Samuel Peña, said his department had performed more than 400 rescues. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office did not have an updated figure, but said it was considerably higher than the roughly 2,200 rescues it reported on Monday.

• President Trump visited Texas, arriving in Corpus Christi before traveling to Austin.

Video

Texans Navigate Floodwaters — and Emotions

Videos of victims of Tropical Storm Harvey reveal the emotional toll as well as the physical in Houston and the surrounding area.

By CHRIS CIRILLO on Publish DateAugust 29, 2017. Photo by Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times. 

Watch in Times Video »• Times journalists are chronicling the storm and its aftermath. Here is a collection of the most powerful photographs, and a guide to our coverage.

• Follow Times correspondents covering the storm on Twitter: Manny FernandezAlan BlinderJulie TurkewitzJack HealyDave PhilippsAnnie CorrealRick RojasMonica DaveyRichard FaussetRichard Pérez-Peñaand Audra Burch. A collection of their tweets is here.

• Are you in an affected area? If you are safe, and are able to, share your story by email to hurricane@nytimes.com.

• Here are ways you can help.

More rain is expected through Friday.

Parts of Houston have been inundated by more than 50 inches, and totals could exceed 20 inches in southern Louisiana, the National Weather Service reported.

As for the record rainfall, a weather station at Cedar Bayou about 25 miles east of downtown Houston reported 51.88 inches of rain, eclipsing the previous mark of 48.00 inches that was measured at Medina, Tex., during Amelia, a tropical storm in 1978. Two other weather stations exceeded the Amelia record as well.

Weather service officials noted that the rain was still falling and that the numbers at Cedar Bayou and other stations may soon surpass the overall United States record for total rainfall from a single cyclone. In Hawaii during Hurricane Hiki in 1950, 52.00 inches of rain were recorded at a ranger station on Kauai.

How long does it take for that much rain to fall where you live? You can ask The Upshot.

But in the Houston area, a sign of hope emerged Tuesday evening: The sun, not seen for days, broke through the clouds.

Houston’s mayor imposed a curfew.

A citywide curfew has been imposed by the city’s mayor, from midnight to 5 a.m. until further notice.

The Houston Police Department requested the curfew partly in response to reports of “small-scale looting” and other crimes, Chief Acevedo said at a news conference Tuesday evening.

He added that the curfew would help search and rescue teams get around without interference.

Mr. Turner, the mayor, warned that people had been impersonating law enforcement officers in some neighborhoods, going door to door and telling residents falsely that there was a mandatory evacuation order in place.

Harvey Flood Rescues: ‘We Got About 100 People Out’

Texans with boats are patrolling neighborhoods around Houston and bringing residents stranded by flooding to safety.

The president offered encouragement in a visit.

Mr. Trump arrived in Corpus Christi for a briefing on relief efforts, then headed to Austin for a tour of an emergency operations center and a briefing with state leaders.

“It’s a real team, and we want to do it better than ever before,” Mr. Trump said of the response effort during a meeting with officials from local, state and federal agencies in a Corpus Christi firehouse. “We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it.” Read more about his visit here.

A Houston police officer died trying to get to work.

Officials confirmed that Sgt. Steve Perez, of the Houston Police Department, died in floodwaters Sunday on his way to work. Mr. Perez, 60, left his home around 4 a.m. on Sunday and spent at least two and a half hours trying to make his way to work, Chief Acevedo said. When he wasn’t heard from, officials began a search. A dive team recovered his body Tuesday morning.

“Unfortunately, in the darkness, Sergeant Perez drove onto an underpass,” Chief Acevedo said.

Mr. Perez’s wife and father-in-law had urged him not to go to work that day, Chief Acevedo said. “His response was, ‘I’ve got work to do.’” Mr. Perez, who worked in the department’s division of traffic enforcement, was a “sweet, gentle public servant,” the chief added.

Outside Houston’s main shelter, lines formed.

As rain fell in the early afternoon, scores of people waited outside the George R. Brown Convention Center, where more than 9,000 people had already taken shelter. A pile of wet American Red Cross blankets sat near the end of one line.

On Sunday and Monday, evacuees were able to enter the sprawling complex without delay. Buy by Tuesday, while the convention center appeared to be organized, there were some signs of strain. Some people set up bedding in the main corridor, an area that had been mostly empty a day earlier, to get away from the increasingly crowded main dormitory.

Nathan Malbrue, who was sitting on the edge of an inflatable mattress, said he was not bothered by the growing crowd. He said he was in the hallway, near a medical station, because of a heart condition. “Just bring everybody in,” he said. “This is a big building.”

But Cora Watson, 58, feared that the convention center would be overwhelmed. “Move them to hotels or something,” she said, her voice barely audible.

Reservoirs are above capacity in Houston.

Water rose to the top of an emergency spillway at a major flood-control reservoir west of downtown Houston, 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 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.

A levee breach threatened a village near Houston.

A levee designed to protect the community of Columbia Lakes, 40 miles southwest of Houston, from the Brazos River was breached, Brazoria County officials said.

Columbia Lakes is a small resort village with a country club and golf course, and is surrounded by levees. Residents were ordered to “GET OUT NOW!!” according to a Twitter message, although many had already left after a mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday.

The Brazos, currently just above flood stage at 30 feet, will rise another few feet by Wednesday and go over the levees, which are at 32 feet, the National Weather Service predicted. “That’s the scary part we’re watching for,” Mr. MacNeil said.

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August 29th, 2017

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