(Reuters) - Heavy showers drenched the Texas Gulf Coast on Thursday and flood waters continued to rise after residents fled their homes and crews conducted numerous water rescues in towns still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Flash flood warnings and watches were in effect for communities along the Gulf of Mexico coast and inland, where as much as 5 inches (13 cm) of rain was forecast, the National Weather Service said. More than a foot of rain has already fallen in parts of the region this week.
“If you are in the warned area move to higher ground immediately. Residents living along streams and creeks should take immediate precautions to protect life and property,” the weather service said early on Thursday.
The warning came after a deluge of rain flooded streets and expressways on Wednesday, forcing residents to wade through shoulder-deep waters to flee their homes and vehicles. Crews conducted dozens of water rescues in towns like Weslaco, Mercedes and McAllen near the Mexico border.
“It took everyone by surprise. No one was expecting this much rain. The only thing is that pretty much everywhere it’s already flooded and the roads are closed, so where would you go?,” Weslaco resident Kandy Marroquin told a local NBC affiliate.
Shelters were opened across the Rio Grande Valley where entire neighborhoods were flooded, local media reported.
“They’ve been coming with law enforcement officers, buses, all sorts of trucks bringing people in. At one point we had close to 100 people,” Steven Parker, the pastor at First Baptist Church in Weslaco told NBC affiliate KVEO-TV in Brownsville. “People have been trickling in all day. We’re here as long we’re needed.”
McAllen was already in the news this week for images of migrant children held in cages at a Border Patrol Processing Center in the city.
Flash flood watches were also in effect on Thursday for the area around Corpus Christi, where sewage water contributed to the flooding on Wednesday, local media reported.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Catherine Evans