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article imageImelda brings catastrophic rainfall and flooding to Texas

By Karen Graham     Sep 19, 2019 in Environment
The remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda unleashed torrential rain Thursday in parts of Texas, prompting hundreds of water rescues, a hospital evacuation, and road closures.
Severe flooding and storm damage has been reported in several Houston-area counties as the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda continues to move across southeast Texas.
The catastrophic rainfall prompted Liberty County officials to issue a "shelter-in-place" order Thursday as the county has seen over 26 inches of rain in the past two days, In Montgomery County, all offices have been closed after parts of that area saw more than eight inches of rain.
It is no wonder that people in the Houston area are comparing Imelda to Hurricane Harvey that dumped nearly 50 inches (130 centimeters) of rain on parts of the flood-prone city in August 2017. Forecasters are predicting that Imelda could still dump 40 inches (100 centimeters) or more of rain this week.
The rainfall also prompted the Weather Channel's Mike Bettis to Tweet about 30 minutes ago: "#Imelda is now unofficially the 5th biggest tropical rainmaker in Continental US recorded history. It has also surpassed #Allison’s highest rain total from 2001. And it’s still raining."
Flooding worse than Hurricane Harvey
Thankfully, no injuries or deaths have been reported as of today, but officials say that in some areas east of Houston, the flooding is worse than with Hurricane Harvey. In the small town of Winnie, 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Houston, a hospital was evacuated and water was inundating several homes and businesses.
“What I’m sitting in right now makes Harvey look like a little thunderstorm,” Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne told Houston TV station KTRK. The Sheriff said about 200 people were rescued overnight and another 50 were on the list for rescue today.
Airboats and high-water vehicles from the sheriff's department and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department were helping in the rescue operations.
“It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Right now I’m in an absolute deluge of rain,” Hawthorne told the AP on Thursday morning as he took cover under a carport at an auto dealership in Winnie. The town “looks like a lake.”
In Beaumont, a city of 120,000 people, all service roads are impassable and two local hospitals are inaccessible, the Beaumont Enterprise reported. Interstate 10, between Houston and Beaumont, was also impassable due to flooding.
Latest forecast
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for parts of southwestern San Jacinto, southeastern Montgomery, northwestern Chambers, southwestern Liberty, and northeastern and north-central Harris counties.
A flash flood emergency was also declared in southwestern Newton County, southern Hardin County, Orange County and southeastern Jasper County. "This is an incredibly dangerous, life-threatening situation," the NWS said.
The Weather Channel's hurricane expert, Dr. Rick Knabb says: “The ongoing torrential rains of Imelda have caused locally overwhelming and damaging flooding today in portions of southeast Texas, mainly east and north of Houston. The risk of more rains and life-threatening and damaging flooding continues in that region through tonight and tomorrow morning, before Imelda finally moves farther north, affecting northeast Texas on Friday.”
Close to 79,000 homes and businesses were without electricity as of 12:15 p.m. CT, according to poweroutage.us. CenterPoint Energy has pushed back the time it will take for restoring power about 12 hours, citing how dangerous it was for employees.
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