Houston to open more mega-shelters to house flooded families

Voluntary Emergency Evacuation Order (Houston)

Voluntary Emergency Evacuation Order (Houston)

Residents living near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs - that were created to prevent flooding in downtown Houston - were warned Sunday that a controlled release from both reservoirs would cause additional street flooding that could spill into homes.

The US Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District said Monday they are beginning to release water from the Addicks and Barker dams near Houston, Texas, due to the recent dramatic increase in water levels and subsequent risk of further flooding in the city.

"Harvey is expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 7 to 13 inches through Friday over parts of the upper Texas coast into southwestern Louisiana", the NHC said in an update Tuesday morning. Rain fell Tuesday at about half an inch (1 centimetre) per hour over Harris County - home to Houston - and up to 2 inches (5 centimetres) per hour to the east. In the large-scale chaos that the storm has brought, emergency crews have been working to save stranded residents and cope with the flow of evacuees - even as more rain is forecast for areas that have already been flooded.

At least nine persons are reported to have died, including six members of the same family whose van was swept away by rising floodwater, and a man in his 60s who apparently drowned while trying to swim to safety.

The federal government constructed both dams in the 1940s on the outskirts of Houston.

The 911 system in Houston has been at capacity throughout the night as rainfall has intensified from Tropical Storm Harvey.

The centre already held more than 9,000 people, nearly twice the number officials originally planned to house there, said mayor Sylvester Turner.

The storm marks the first time Mr Trump has been tested by a major natural disaster.

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That brings to almost 6,000 the number of prisoners displaced by Harvey, which made landfall Friday as a hurricane and is now a tropical storm.

Authorities said residents had been warned that the levee would overflow at some point and a mandatory evacuation order was given on Sunday.

The storm is generating an amount of rain that would normally be seen only once in more than 1,000 years, said Edmond Russo, of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Before the storm is gone, up to 20in more rain could fall, the National Weather Service said, meaning the flooding will get worse in the days ahead and the water will be slow to recede once Harvey finally moves on.

Harvey could regain strength Monday and Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center says.

The center of the storm was marked 135 miles (220 kilometers) south-southwest of Port Arthur, Texas, and was moving east at 3 mph (4.8 kph) with sustained winds of up to 45 mph (72 kph).

The US Gulf Coast has been battered by Hurricane Harvey since Saturday.

Crews have been overwhelmed by thousands of rescue calls during one of the heaviest downpours in USA history and have had little time to search for potential victims.

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