Houston dam begins overspilling

Floodwaters are expected to rise still further in the inundated Texan city of Houston, where more than 30,000 people have been forced from their homes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Unprecedentedly heavy rains have fallen for three days and the downpour is forecast to continue.

Harvey, downgraded to a tropical storm, is now beginning to affect Louisiana.

There, New Orleans – devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – is preparing for flooding.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu is urging residents to “stay home” and “stay off the streets”.

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.

Two dams outside the city appeared close to spilling over early on Tuesday, despite efforts to ease water levels there in the past day.

At least nine people are reported to have died in the Houston area. Six members of the same family died trying to flee rising floodwaters, relatives told US media.

The city’s police chief has said he is worried about how many bodies will be found when the floods abate.

The city – the fourth largest city in the US – did not order an evacuation amid concerns about 2.3 million fleeing residents leading to chaos and deaths on the roads, with the possibility of floodwaters trapping people in their vehicles.

Thousands of people are reported to have been rescued by the authorities. Many have been spending the night at a huge shelter in central Houston.

Rescuers are trying to reach stranded people while the governor of Texas has approved the deployment of all 12,000 members of the state’s National Guard to assist.

The National Weather Service has urged people to stay put if they are in a safe location, warning that the “catastrophic” flooding is ongoing.

The flooding has been exacerbated by emergency releases of water from two reservoirs upstream of the city. The decision appears to have been made to sacrifice suburban homes to save central Houston.

Source: BBC

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