Thunderstorms and lingering rain bands slammed the Houston area on Wednesday and Thursday, downing power lines, flooding streets, and leading to road and school closures, while drivers were stranded in cars and flights were cancelled and delayed.
Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport announced a “full ground stop” for all its flights. Emergency responders performed several high-water rescues and helped evacuate a hospital.
The National Weather Service reported that Imelda’s “extremely persistent thunderstorms” brought prolific and potentially “life-threatening” rainfall to the area, with total rainfall amounts expected to reach up to 60 centimetres on Friday.
Houston mayor Sylvester Turner has warned residents to “stay put” until the weather has subsided. Texas governor Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster for 13 Texas counties and deployed emergency responders to affected areas.
“The State of Texas is working closely with local officials and emergency personnel to provide the resources they need to keep Texans safe from Tropical Storm Imelda,” Mr Abbott said in a statement.
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“I thank our first responders who are acting swiftly to help the communities that are facing this severe weather event. I urge all those in the path of this storm to take the necessary precautions and heed all warnings from local officials.”
The US National Guard also will establish operations in the state to support emergency response.
“We stand ready to support Texans in need and we won't rest until we've made every effort to rescue those in harm's way,” said Brandon Jones, press secretary for the Texas Military Department. “Our guardsmen conduct regular and routine training exercises to prepare for situations like Tropical Depression Imelda.”
Imelda is the first named storm to hit the area since 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, which reached Texas as a category 4 storm and hovered above Houston for several days, dropping up to 127 centimetres of rain in some areas and inflicting $100 billion in damages to the area.
The heaviest flooding is largely east of Houston, which endured some flooding in 2017 but is now experienc
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The storm weakened to a tropical depression when it made landfall on Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 64 kph. Early Thursday, the storm’s center moved north of Houston and begun slowly moving west.