AP

Water rescues underway as Imelda drenches parts of Texas

Sep 19, 2019, 6:39 AM
Trucks drive down Carancahua Street to enter neighborhoods in Sargent, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, ...
Trucks drive down Carancahua Street to enter neighborhoods in Sargent, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Imelda has deluged parts of Southeast Texas with nearly 20 inches of rain, but officials in Houston and surrounding communities said Wednesday that so far there have been no severe impacts from the tropical depression. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)
(Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — Rain from Tropical Depression Imelda deluged parts of Texas and Louisiana on Thursday, prompting hundreds of water rescues, a hospital evacuation and road closures in areas east of Houston that were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

Forecasters warned that Imelda could bring up to 35 inches (90 centimeters) of rain this week in some areas of Texas through Friday. The storm system also brought the risk of severe weather and prompted tornado warnings Thursday morning in the areas hit hardest by the flooding.

In Winnie, a town of about 3,200 people located 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Houston, a hospital was evacuated and water is inundating several homes and businesses. The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office said Winnie is “being devastated by rising water” and water rescues are ongoing.

The worst of the flooding is east of Houston, and some local officials said the rainfall Thursday is causing flooding worse than what happened during Hurricane Harvey .

In Beaumont, a city of just under 120,000 people that’s located about 30 miles (48.28 kilometers) from the Gulf of Mexico, authorities said all service roads are impassable and two local hospitals are inaccessible, the Beaumont Enterprise reported. The Beaumont Police Department said on Twitter that 911 has received requests for more than 250 high water rescues and 270 evacuations.

“It’s bad. Homes that did not flood in Harvey are flooding now,” Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said. During Harvey, Beaumont’s only pump station was swamped by floodwaters , leaving residents with water service for more than a week.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for several counties, saying “life-threatening amounts of rainfall” have fallen and more is expected in the area Thursday. Imelda’s center was located about 110 miles (180 kilometers) north of Houston early Thursday and was moving north-northwest at 5 mph (7 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center.

Heavy rainfall occurred Wednesday in many areas and spawned several weak tornadoes in the Baytown area, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Houston, damaging trees, barns and sheds and causing minor damage to some homes and vehicles.

Coastal counties, including Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston, were hit hard by rainfall through Wednesday. Sargent, a town of about 2,700 residents in Matagorda County, had received nearly 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain since Tuesday.

Karen Romero, who lives with her husband in Sargent, said Wednesday this was the most rain she has had in her neighborhood in her nine years living there.

“The rain (Tuesday) night was just massive sheets of rain and lightning storms,” said Romero, 57.

She said her home, located along a creek, was not in danger of flooding as it sits on stilts, like many others nearby.

In the Houston area, the rainfall flooded some roadways Wednesday, stranding drivers, and caused several creeks and bayous to rise to high levels.

The National Hurricane Center said Imelda weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall Tuesday near Freeport, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph).

The weather service said Imelda is the first named storm to impact the Houston area since Hurricane Harvey dumped nearly 50 inches (130 centimeters) of rain on parts of the flood-prone city in August 2017, flooding more than 150,000 homes in the Houston area and causing an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas.

Gabino Hernandez walks down a flooded section of West Nasa Road in Webster, Texas on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Floodwaters from Clear Creek inundated the area from Tropical Depression Imelda. (Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP) Mark Bazan, left, Lola Sierra, center, holding her baby, Melani, and Amanda Huschle look out over their flooded yard in the 5900 block of Avenue R in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, after heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda caused street flooding on the island. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP) Cheryl Stephens takes advantage of a break in the rain from Tropical Depression Imelda, to check out the high water in her neighborhood at 69th Street and Heards Lane in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP) Terry Spencer carries his daughter, Trinity, through high water on 59th Street near Stewart Road in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, as heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda caused street flooding on the island. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP) According to Matagorda County Constable Bill Orton, Sargent received 22 inches of rain since Imelda started impacted the area on Tuesday. Photographed from above Sargent, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. ( Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP) According to Matagorda County Constable Bill Orton, Sargent received 22 inches of rain since Imelda started impacted the area on Tuesday. Photographed from above Sargent, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. ( Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP) Trucks drive down Carancahua Street to enter neighborhoods in Sargent, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Imelda has deluged parts of Southeast Texas with nearly 20 inches of rain, but officials in Houston and surrounding communities said Wednesday that so far there have been no severe impacts from the tropical depression. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP) Felipe Morales works on getting his truck out of a ditch filled with high water during a rain storm stemming from rain bands spawned by Tropical Storm Imelda on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Houston. He was able to get help when a man with a truck helped pull him from the ditch. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP) Cars are stalled in high water on 37th Street near Harborside Drive in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, as heavy rain from Tropical Storm Imelda caused street flooding on the island. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP) Two men wade across 19th Street in Galveston, Texas., Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 as heavy rain from Tropical Storm Imelda caused street flooding on the island. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP) A Freeport Police Department vehicle drives down a flooded S. Velasco Blvd. between west Fifth and Seventh streets, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Freeport, Texas, as heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda falls. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP) Susan Molina brings her trash can back to her house on 43rd Street while Tropical Storm Imelda causes rain and street flooding in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Molina's trashcan floated several blocks away from her house. (Kelsey Walling/The Galveston County Daily News via AP) Angel Marshman carries a gas can as he walks through floodwaters from Tropical Depression Imelda to get to his flooded car, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Galveston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Angel Marshman wades through floodwaters from Tropical Depression Imelda after trying to start his flooded car Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Galveston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) A postman walks through the flooded streets from Tropical Depression Imelda as he deliver mail Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Galveston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Paco Vargas pushes floodwaters from Tropical Depression Imelda away from his business Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Galveston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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Water rescues underway as Imelda drenches parts of Texas