HOUSTON, TX – Thunderstorms in the Houston area today have worsened flooding in areas of the city that had been drenched earlier in the week.
Houston and surrounding counties have received more than a foot of rain since Sunday night. The flooding has forced thousands of people from their homes. It’s been linked to eight deaths.
A heavy rainstorm this morning dumped more than an inch of rain in less than an hour in some areas of Harris County, which includes most of Houston.
An official with the Harris County Flood Control District says it’s not enough to cause more widespread flooding. He says two aging reservoirs in west Houston that are considered “extremely high risk” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are holding record amounts of water – at 50 percent capacity – but they remain in good shape.
Meanwhile, officials in Wharton, a community of about 8,700 residents about 50 miles southwest of Houston, ordered residents to leave their homes in some low-lying neighborhoods along the rain-swollen Colorado River.
Previous updates (all times local):
Areas surrounding two flood-control dams west of Houston have been placed under flood warnings.
The National Weather Service issued the warning Wednesday evening through Saturday evening for the fast-growing residential and commercial areas surrounding the Addicks and Barker reservoirs.
The water level in the Addicks Reservoir was measured about 6 p.m. Wednesday at 101.4 feet, with a forecast crest of 103.2 feet. That far surpasses the previous record for the reservoir of 97.46 feet set in March 1992. The water in Barker Reservoir was 93.8 feet, exceeding the March 1992 record of 93.6 feet. The weather service predicts a weekend crest of 97.7 feet.
The floodwaters are expected to close roads in surrounding neighborhoods.
The reservoirs are normally dry. The dams were built to regulate floodwaters on Buffalo Bayou and Bear Creek.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says he’s hopeful the worst is over for the flood-ravaged area that includes Houston and says the focus should move to getting the recovery right and providing people with the help they need as soon as possible.
Emmett, the county’s chief administrator, says he knows people’s nerves are on edge and that some subdivisions still are threatened with flooding that began with heavy rains Sunday night.
Two areas of concern are reservoirs on the county’s west side that continue to take on water from overflowing streams and where officials anticipate some new flooding of a few homes on property that borders the reservoirs.
The commander of the Army Corp of Engineers district, Colonel Richard Pannell, says the levees are holding and he has confidence they will continue to hold.
Authorities say four boys were rescued from a nearly submerged boat after a dangerous 11-mile ride along a flooded creek north of Houston.
The Montgomery County Constable’s Office says the juveniles were rescued Tuesday night after being reported missing on Caney (KAY’-nee) Creek, near New Caney.
Sgt. Jim Slack said Wednesday that the boys were “scared but safe” after being rescued by residents using an airboat.
Authorities believe the juveniles found a boat and decided to go for a ride even though the boat didn’t have life jackets, a working motor or paddles on board.
Slack says the boys went into the water with the boat about 90 minutes before sunset. They were located and rescued several hours later as the nearly submerged boat passed under a highway bridge.
The boys weren’t hurt. County constables transported the boys to their families.
As flooding caused by this week’s heavy rainfall continues to inundate Houston-area homes, officials are keeping an eye on two major dams deemed “extremely high risk” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Authorities said Wednesday the dams – at 50 percent capacity – are working well and were classified as high risk only because they’re about two decades beyond their life expectancy and in a populated area.
Richard Long, with the Corps’ project operations branch, says it will take a long time to drain the reservoirs behind the dams in controlled releases. There is about two months’ worth of water to get rid of.
But as more water continues to come into the reservoirs from rivers and streams, officials expect some homes and streets near the dams to be flooded.
Officials say another person has died in Houston-area floods, raising the toll to eight.
The Austin County Sheriff’s Office didn’t provide more information Wednesday on the most recent drowning.
Six people have died in Harris County and one more in neighboring Waller County since a huge storm dropped more than a foot of rain on the area. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and major highways were closed after the rains that started Sunday overwhelmed Houston’s bayous.
Forecasters have issued another flash flood watch for Houston through Wednesday night.
The Houston Independent School District has resumed classes after being closed for two days because of the flooding.
Elsewhere, authorities blamed heavy rains for a sinkhole that opened up on a residential street in northwest Dallas.
The Houston area is facing the threat of more precipitation after several days of deadly storms that dumped more than a foot of rain.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch through Wednesday night for Houston.
A chance of thunderstorms continues through Friday, as the nation’s fourth-largest city recovers from high water that forced evacuations, disrupted travel and canceled school for more than a million students in the region.
The Houston Independent School District resumes classes Wednesday after two days off. It’s the largest school district in Texas, with about 215,000 students.
Law enforcement has confirmed seven flood-related deaths in Harris and Waller counties.
In North Texas, floodwaters began receding in Parker County after the Brazos (BRAZ’-uhs) River crested following storm damage to the Horseshoe Bend area.