Houston area facing ‘life-threatening’ flood conditions as severe weather pummels Texas

Written by on May 3, 2024

Feldhaar Christian / EyeEm/Getty Images

(HOUSTON) — The Houston area is facing “life-threatening” flood conditions, officials warned, as severe weather pummels parts of Texas.

A flood watch is in effect Thursday in southeastern Texas and Louisiana. Numerous flash flood warnings are also in effect, as up to 8 inches of rain has already fallen in some parts of southeastern Texas Thursday. Additional rounds of rain are expected to continue through Friday in these areas.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration as severe weather and flooding threatened the state.

“As flooding conditions and severe weather continue in multiple regions across Texas, I expanded the disaster declaration to add 59 counties to ensure Texans and their communities receive the assistance and support they need to stay safe,” the governor said in a statement. “For Texans in at-risk areas, it is important to remain weather-aware, follow the guidance of state and local officials, and avoid traveling in dangerous flood conditions. The State of Texas continues working with emergency management and local officials to deploy any additional resources needed to provide ongoing support and protect our fellow Texans.”

Officials in Harris County also issued a disaster declaration Thursday and called for mandatory evacuations for residents living closest to the banks of the East Fork of the San Jacinto River due to ongoing flooding and heavy rainfall north of the area.

“We want you out of this area,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during a press briefing on Thursday. “This is a life-threatening situation.”

The river is expected to rise to 77 feet above sea level by Friday. The water level will be several feet below where it was during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Hidalgo said. Typically the river is 45 to 50 feet above sea level, she said.

Those unable to leave will likely be trapped in their homes for two to three days, she warned.

“Extreme” river flooding is expected to impact central and east Texas river basins through next week, with “historic” releases by lake and reservoir operators amid the heavy rainfall exacerbating flooding conditions, the governor’s office said.

Flooding has caused closures along highways in the region. Abbott’s office said state responders aided with “multiple” high-water rescues in central and southeast Texas overnight while urging residents to monitor forecasts and follow guidance from local emergency officials.

Residents are also being impacted by power outages amid the severe weather. More than 20,000 Houston-area customers were without power Thursday evening, according to CenterPoint Energy’s outage tracker.

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