HOUSTON (Reuters) - At least eight people have died and some 1,150 homes have been damaged in flooding triggered by torrential downpours in the Houston area this week as more rain fell in the region on Wednesday adding to vast pools of standing water.
All of those who died were found in or near vehicles that had been in flooded areas, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences and a local sheriff said.
The National Weather Service said about an inch or less had fallen in the area as of Wednesday afternoon, keeping water high in parts of the country’s fourth largest city where some roads have been turned into lakes. The Houston region had a record-setting drenching that dumped as much as 18 inches (45 cm) on some places on Monday.
Don Oettinger, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Houston/Galveston office, said there was a possibility of more rain on Thursday.
“After tomorrow, we should dry up for a couple of days,” he added.
The weather service issued a flood watch from central Texas through Houston and into large parts of Louisiana.
There have been more than 1,200 water rescues during the flooding, with emergency crews shuttling people by boat to dry ground and picking up hundreds of motorists whose cars were caught in rushing waters.
The Houston Independent School District, the country’s seventh-largest school district, said it would reopen on Wednesday after flooding caused the closure of hundreds of schools earlier this week. Some suburban school districts remained closed on Wednesday.
Heavy storms can overwhelm drainage channels that move water from Houston back to the Gulf of Mexico, particularly if the ground is already saturated.
The city faced similar widespread flooding during a storm last May and Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, the Houston bureau and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Paul Simao, Toni Reinhold