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TROPICAL STORM IMELDA FLOODING PARALYZES HOUSTON

Homes and autos all over the county were inundated with high water in a short time. These motorists at Aldine Mail Route/Eastex frontage road were stopped by the high water. Authorities had to tow over 1600 autos to clear major highways.

20” of Rain in 24 hours; 1500 High Water Rescues

By Gilbert Hoffman

HARRIS COUNTY – Tropical Storm IMELDA never reached hurricane status, but it ended up doing more flooding than Hurricane Harvey two years ago, according to authorities.

The storm came ashore near Freeport on Tuesday evening, and by Thursday had dropped massive amounts of water on Harris County and counties to the north and east of Houston, all the way to Beaumont.

Motorists sought high ground, such as this gas station at W. Mt. Houston, as the water rose quickly and caught many drivers by surprise. At left, a high water rescue vehicle from the sheriff’s office takes some to safety.

The storm took five lives, three in Beaumont and two in Harris County. Authorities said a man drove into high water on Will Clayton Parkway in Humble, and another body of Rene Salas, 52, was found in a ditch near W. Mt. Houston.

Houston recorded as much as 10” of rain in a 24 hour period, and a total of about 20” in three days. Northeast Harris County, including Crosby and Huffman, recorded about 30” in that period, and a record was set in Winnie, in Chambers County, of 43” total for a storm.

Aldine student Jayden Payne was credited with saving this mother and child after their car went into high water in a drainage ditch near the school.

Many of the same houses and neighborhoods that were under water two years ago after Hurricane Harvey suffered the same damage this time. Many who were interviewed expressed despair and depression over this continued personal disaster, and asked why the government had not done more. Last year the county passed a $2.5 billion bond issue to improve the flooding situation, but County Judge Lina Hidalgo stated that flood relief projects took time to plan and build. Some detention ponds and larger drainage bayous are under construction, and the county voted recently to accelerate the schedule.

The Red Cross has established shelters in 19 locations, and Gallery Furniture, North Freeway and Lakewood Church opened as shelters. Harris County announced Local Recovery Centers at:

— Kingwood United Methodist Church

— Grayson Community Center, Channelview

Nine barges broke loose from moorings due to high water, and damaged the I-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River, causing TxDot to close all traffic.

Almost all school districts were closed on Friday. Authorities said that over 1500 high water rescues had been made in two days. Bush Airport was closed in incoming flights, and many others were delayed or cancelled. Residents needing help can call 211 to be connected to resources.

Three workers were injured when part of the roof of the Post Office on Aldine Bender collapsed.