People in southeastern Texas are urgently warned to stay indoors as Imelda causes widespread flooding

Remnants of former Tropical Depression Imelda were causing serious floods in Houston suburbs and the Beaumont area Thursday, trapping people in homes and veh...

Posted: Sep 19, 2019 9:41 AM
Updated: Sep 19, 2019 2:45 PM

Remnants of former Tropical Depression Imelda were causing serious floods in Houston suburbs and the Beaumont area Thursday, trapping people in homes and vehicles, spurring urgent rescues, and prompting warnings across southeastern Texas for people to stay indoors.

Flooding is most serious just north of Houston and to the east, including the city of Beaumont, where police said they've received hundreds of calls for rescues and were begging people not to drive because most roads were flooded.

The storm, formerly a tropical storm and a tropical depression, has brought intense rain to southeastern Texas since Tuesday. Many places outside Houston have received more than 10 inches; parts of Jefferson County have seen more than 30; and another 5 to 10 inches of rain could come Thursday.

Recent developments include:

Flights were being delayed at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday in part because roads around the airport were flooding.

• The National Weather Service urged residents of four Houston-area counties to stay indoors because of flash flooding. This included people in Montgomery, Liberty and Chambers counties, as well as northeastern Harris County, which includes the communities of Kingwood and Humble.

• In Jefferson County east of Houston, the Green Pond Gulley levy near Beaumont 'is deteriorating and could break at any moment,' prompting an evacuation of the Gilbert Lake Estates area, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said.

Desperation in Beaumont and elsewhere

In the Beaumont area of Jefferson County, some neighborhoods looked like lakes Thursday. Video posted by state game wardens showed rescuers in an airboat, speeding down covered streets to surrounded homes.

'The situation here is turning worse by the minute,' Michael Stephens, trapped by floodwaters at an apartment complex in the nearby city of Vidor, told CNN Thursday morning.

'People have snakes in their apartments from the creek. ... (We) also have elderly disabled people stuck in their apartments.'

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From inside, Stephens recorded video of people trudging through floodwater outside. He said for this area, the flooding seemed worse than he remembered from 2017's deadly Hurricane Harvey.

In Beaumont, ankle-deep water had collected in the lobby of the Elegante Hotel, and more was coming in, video recorded by Lupe Torres on Thursday showed.

Beaumont police said the city received 12 to 20 inches of rain from Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, with more to come.

Floodwater poured into Beaumont TV station KBMT Thursday morning, forcing the news staff to move to their sister station in Houston, KHOU, to broadcast.

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott declared a state of disaster Thursday for 13 counties.

Drivers trapped on I-10 near Winnie

In the community of Winnie -- between Houston and Beaumont -- floodwaters intruded onto Interstate 10 and surface streets Thursday morning, trapping motorists on the highway and surrounding businesses. A photo on social media showed a truck almost submerged near a hotel.

Steve Castle told CNN floodwaters had him stuck in his truck on I-10 early Thursday.

'I was supposed to be driving back to Houston. I don't think I'm going anywhere soon,' Castle said from his truck.

In Chambers County, which includes Winnie, at least 200 homes were taking on water, Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said. The sheriff's office said it was reaching trapped people with high-water rescue vehicles and airboats.

High-water vehicles also were being used to evacuate several patients from the Winnie hospital, Constable Dennis Dugat told OnScene.TV.

Richard Tyson, waiting out the storm overnight in his bait and tackle shop, said he hasn't seen flooding like this since Hurricane Harvey -- and in this community, he said, Thursday's flooding might be worse.

More than a foot of water collected in his parking lot, and he cleared items off his floor in case the water comes in, he said.

'There's no containing this (storm), brother. It's doing what it wants,' Tyson said.

In Baytown, about 26 miles east of Houston, a tornado added to the damage on Wednesday.

The twister picked up a hundred-gallon propane tank, launching it into the house he was in and sending everything flying, Albert Elizondo said.

'It lasted about three minutes. Boom. I went outside, no porch -- nothing,' Elizondo said.

More rain to come Thursday

The storm is in East Texas and slowly moving northeast. Flash flood watches are in effect Thursday more millions of people across East Texas and western Louisiana.

In Louisiana, the storm could bring 3 to 5 more inches of rain -- with isolated amounts as high as 10 inches -- on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

Houston itself -- long a place with flooding problems due in part to vast concrete sprawl -- may escape the worst of this storm's flooding.

Still, the city may receive more than 12 inches of rain before the storm is over, and some streets have flooded.

Comparing rainfall from Harvey and Imelda

Imelda is causing some of the most serious flooding in southeastern Texas since Hurricane Harvey, which created major problems in August 2017.

Generally, Harvey, which claimed dozens of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage, dropped more rain than Imelda.

Harvey broke the US record for rainfall from a single storm, dumping more than 60 inches about 90 miles east of Houston. Harvey left 34 inches of rain at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and more than 40 inches in areas east of the city.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1007681

Reported Deaths: 16470
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1355212121
Lake664101166
Allen57993801
Hamilton46350465
St. Joseph44397615
Elkhart35949510
Vanderburgh32251480
Tippecanoe27933260
Johnson25107445
Hendricks23897359
Porter22929365
Madison18748409
Clark18557252
Vigo17479303
Monroe15263200
LaPorte15173250
Delaware15073263
Howard14748290
Kosciusko12348148
Hancock11728176
Bartholomew11639180
Warrick11292189
Floyd11108215
Wayne10986253
Grant10082220
Morgan9472176
Boone8926115
Dubois8271131
Henry8229152
Dearborn822393
Noble8031106
Marshall7939135
Cass7546121
Lawrence7457171
Shelby7189119
Jackson698289
Gibson6597115
Harrison649192
Knox6421106
Huntington6395100
DeKalb632399
Montgomery6264111
Miami593398
Putnam581278
Clinton576171
Whitley565755
Steuben562576
Wabash5332104
Jasper532079
Jefferson511297
Ripley500586
Adams482576
Daviess4677114
Scott438974
Greene425196
Wells424888
Clay423360
White418764
Decatur4169102
Fayette406587
Jennings387361
Posey376644
Washington359151
LaGrange359078
Randolph3452100
Spencer340243
Fountain335760
Sullivan329452
Starke317171
Owen314771
Fulton312667
Orange293664
Jay284645
Franklin265643
Perry265452
Rush262432
Carroll261934
Vermillion258654
Parke231426
Pike229243
Tipton228159
Blackford193142
Pulaski183757
Crawford159823
Newton158348
Benton150617
Brown146747
Martin138719
Switzerland135011
Warren121116
Union107016
Ohio84613
Unassigned0540

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1515838

Reported Deaths: 23955
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1640131696
Cuyahoga1460532459
Hamilton1052061431
Montgomery738951279
Summit616491111
Lucas56212917
Butler51500718
Stark465771064
Lorain35525585
Warren32769377
Mahoning30719693
Clermont28151330
Lake26979448
Delaware24159164
Licking23882294
Trumbull22825561
Fairfield22354247
Greene22289326
Medina22002313
Clark19812354
Richland18559292
Portage17924252
Wood17427224
Allen15967279
Miami15524306
Muskingum14789185
Columbiana14017274
Wayne13755271
Tuscarawas12692311
Marion11957180
Scioto11452162
Pickaway11356142
Erie10867184
Ross10555203
Lawrence9746153
Ashtabula9701204
Hancock9687155
Belmont9287209
Geauga8933157
Jefferson8547199
Huron8380143
Union818859
Washington8085144
Sandusky7807151
Athens776179
Knox7705144
Darke7643158
Seneca7343145
Ashland6945130
Auglaize678699
Shelby6516115
Brown635291
Crawford6261130
Defiance6192105
Mercer614593
Fulton601296
Highland599399
Madison593978
Guernsey589771
Logan587996
Clinton582993
Preble5710125
Putnam5323110
Williams528088
Perry517363
Champaign511573
Jackson508573
Ottawa486286
Coshocton482283
Morrow458158
Pike433467
Fayette428263
Hardin418080
Gallia417267
Adams416695
Van Wert370882
Henry364072
Holmes3624125
Hocking356482
Wyandot322962
Carroll301765
Paulding279447
Meigs264651
Monroe215554
Noble199747
Morgan193933
Harrison181446
Vinton165525
Unassigned05
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Showers on tap for Sunday with the chance of a few thunderstorms.
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