Houston officials release water from reservoirs

Marie Harrington
August 30, 2017

The governor and mayor clashed before Hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday, with Abbott suggesting people in Houston might want to evacuate but Turner saying fleeing unnecessarily would clog highways for those leaving other communities facing bigger threats. Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta said residents were warned that the levee would be overtopped at some point, and a mandatory evacuation order was given Sunday.

Two Houston reservoirs are overflowing, despite a controlled water release that aimed to prevent flooding downtown.

The Addicks and Barker reservoirs are at record levels after days of heavy rain across Texas.

The federal government constructed both dams in the 1940s on the outskirts of Houston. In Houston, forecasts suggest that some areas in and around the city could see up to 12in (30cm) of rain on Tuesday, bringing the total rainfall from Harvey to about 50in.

"It's going to be better to release the water through the gates directly into Buffalo Bayou as opposed to letting it go around the end and through additional neighborhoods and ultimately into the bayou", he said.

Jeff Lindner, with the Harris County Flood Control District, said that he's certain that more homes and streets will flood as a result.

Meanwhile, officials in Dallas say they'll open the city's convention center to about 5,000 people who are fleeing from the hurricane-ravaged southern part of the state.

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It could creep as far east as MS by Thursday, meaning New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina unleashed its full wrath in 2005, is in Harvey's path. Foreboding images of Harvey were lighting up weather radar screens early Tuesday, the 12th anniversary of the day Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish.

While a spillover would not cause the Addicks dam to fail, it would add to flooding in areas close to the Buffalo Bayou, the main river into Houston - the fourth largest city in the US.

The US Gulf Coast has been battered by Hurricane Harvey since Saturday.

NWS meteorologist Tawnya Evans says Harris County, home to Houston, is recording about half an inch (1 centimeter) of rainfall each hour early Tuesday, and that areas east of there are seeing much more. She lost everything, she said.

Authorities have only confirmed three deaths because of the storm, but a family of six died trying to escape the Texas floodwater, according to a relative.

The storm was expected to make a slow turn to the northeast on Tuesday, placing the center just off the middle and upper Texas Gulf coast through Tuesday night before moving inland.

The floodwaters are expected to continue rising for some time as the remnants of Harvey continue to dump rain on the area. But the releases were not enough to relieve the pressure after one of the heaviest downpours in USA history, Army Corps of Engineers officials said.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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