Houston receives record rainfall, experiences flooding



Army National Guard vehicles allow rescue workers to check on the welfare of residents who decided to stay in their homes during Brazos River flooding in the Horseshoe Bend area of Parker County, Texas, on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Lindsey Loechel, Reporter

At least eight people have been declared dead since the city of Houston was bombarded by intense rainfall and flooding on April 18. The swift rising of the waters created grave threats and dangers for the citizens of Houston. In addition, the flooding has put local shops and business out of working order, which poses its own risks to the residents.

Schools and city buildings, as well as several office buildings, closed because of perilous road conditions. Harris County officials have declared Houston a disaster area, and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said that more than a thousand homes have reported flooding, including homes that have never flooded in the past.

The ground is so saturated that roads and several walls in local buildings have collapsed. The downpour proved too much for drainage systems to handle, resulting in dozens of Houston subdivisions being flooded and highways submerged in the overwhelming floodwaters.

Portions of northwest Harris County and the surrounding area saw rates of two to four inches of rain per hour. Other areas of Texas experienced recent rains that were expected to cause rivers to crest later in the week, which was expected to cause floods in downstream areas such as the Houston area.

The Texas Medical Center prepared its facilities for massive rainfall, including the use of a sophisticated weather alert system that gives the medical center extra time to activate gates and doors that block excess rainwater.

Amongst the many unbroadcasted disastrous situations, one was captured live television. Audiences watched as a man drove his car into deep floodwaters and yelled out from his window, disoriented and afraid, “What do I do?” KTRK reporter Steve Campion rushed to his aid and called for him to swim, meeting him in the water and helping him to safety.

While the main concern of rescuers was to save trapped people, there were also many horses nearby in desperate need of aid. Harris County sheriff’s deputies saved several horses from drowning as a local stable was inundated by floodwaters.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ryan Sullivan said deputies used boats Monday to reach the horses, some of which were tethered and had to be cut free. Several of the horses belonged to Cypress Trails, a Houston-area stable that offers trail rides.

Sullivan said the horses from Cypress Trails were guided to land for loading into livestock trailers and transported away from the flood scene. He had no immediate information on the fate of other horses seen struggling in water up to their necks in the area near Cypress Creek.

The Cypress Trails stables are just north of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in an area where some nearby roads flooded Monday following the sudden and heavy rainfall. More than 470 flights were canceled in Houston after storms dumped about 16 inches of rain on the area, including a reported 335 cancellations for flights departing and arriving at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Monday. William P. Hobby also cancelled more than 135 flights.

More than 40 districts and universities cancelled school Monday and several of the following days as heavy rain and flooding overwhelmed parts of Harris County and threatened nearby areas.