The Latest: Texas governor declares disaster due to floods
HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda (all times local):
Gov. Greg Abbott has declared 13 counties disaster areas after heavy rain and flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda swamped parts of Southeast Texas.
Abbott on Thursday announced the disaster declaration for Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange and San Jacinto counties.
The National Weather Service says most of Southeast Texas was under a flash flood watch through Friday morning.
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne says emergency personnel completed more than 300 high-water rescues Thursdin the town of Winnie, located 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Houston. Hawthorne had no reports of anyone hurt.
Part of a busy interstate in Texas is shut down because of flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda, stranding some drivers on the roadway.
Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Sarah Dupre says officials do not know exactly how many people are stranded in their cars on Interstate 10, which is shut down from Beaumont to Winnie. Dupre says the department is currently working with local law enforcement on a plan to get those people off the roadway.
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne says the sheriff’s office is focusing on high water rescues in Winnie and neighboring Stowell.
Hawthorne says some residents are up on their roofs because of rising floodwaters.
Hundreds of flights have been canceled or delayed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston due to heavy rain and flooding in Southeast Texas.
Airport officials reported a full ground stop Thursday morning, meaning no flights landing or departing, with flooding on some roads leading to the airport in far north Houston.
The flight tracking service FlightAware reported nearly 200 flights canceled Thursday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, with more than 300 other flights delayed.
Airport spokeswoman Saba Abashawl (SAH’-buh AB’-uh-shawl) said some inbound flights were diverted to William P. Hobby Airport, on the south side of Houston.
Heavy rainfall from the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda is hitting the north Houston area, prompting forecasters to issue a flash flood emergency warning.
The National Weather Service says thunderstorms could drop 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 centimeters) of rain per hour through midday Thursday in parts of Harris County, where Houston is located. The weather service says flash flooding is expected to follow.
The National Hurricane Center says the center of Imelda was located about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Houston as of 10 a.m. Thursday. The hurricane center says the storm system could cause isolated rainfall totals of up to 40 inches (100 centimeters) this week in parts of southeast Texas.
Authorities say emergency workers have rescued about 200 people from a small Texas town hit hard by flooding from Tropical Depression Imelda.
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne says about 50 additional households were on a waiting list to be rescued Thursday in the town of Winnie, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Houston. He says airboats from the sheriff’s office and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department were helping with the rescues, along with high-water vehicles.
Hawthorne told The Associated Press that the town “looks like a lake.” He says it’s the worst storm-related flooding he’s seen after going through hurricanes including Rita in 2005, Ike in 2008, and Harvey two years ago.
In Beaumont, police said on Twitter that they’ve had requests for more than 250 water rescues and 270 evacuations.
The storm system associated with Tropical Depression Imelda is bringing severe weather to parts of Texas already hit by dangerous flooding.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning Thursday morning for Chambers County, including the town of Winnie, where a flash flood emergency warning is also in place.
Forecasters said a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was moving through the area at 15 mph (24 kph).
A flash flood emergency warning is in effect for areas east of Houston as Tropical Depression Imelda dumps rainfall on parts of Texas.
Authorities say high-water rescues are underway in some areas because of rising water.
In the town of Winnie, about 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 says Winnie is “being devastated by rising water” and that water rescues are ongoing.
Flooding is also reported in Beaumont, where authorities say all service roads are impassable. Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick tells the Beaumont Enterprise that homes that did not flood during Hurricane Harvey are now flooding.
The National Weather Service says “life-threatening amounts of rainfall” have fallen and that more is expected in the area Thursday.
Officials in Houston and surrounding communities say so far there have been no severe consequences as Tropical Depression Imelda deluged parts of Southeast Texas with rain.
The storm’s remnants spawned several weak tornadoes in the Baytown area, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Houston, causing minor damage to some homes and vehicles.
Forecasters say the Houston area could still face some heavy rainfall on Thursday.
Coastal counties, including Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston, got the most rainfall since Imelda formed on Tuesday. Some parts of the Houston area had received nearly 8 inches (203 millimeters) of rain, while the city of Galveston had received nearly 9 inches (229 millimeters).
Sargent, a town of about 2,700 residents in Matagorda County, had received nearly 20 inches (508 millimeters) of rain since Tuesday.