Deadly Flooding Drenches Houston Area

     HOUSTON (CN) — More than 12 inches of rain fell in Houston early Monday morning, causing four deaths amid flooding that canceled hundreds of flights and closed courts, schools and businesses.
     Though the rain had tapered off by Monday afternoon, a flash flood warning from the National Weather Service remained in effect until 7 a.m. Tuesday as the agency predicts more heavy thunderstorms Monday night.
     Two people were found dead in their vehicles surrounded by flood waters Monday, local media reported.
     Harris County officials told the Houston Chronicle that one of the fatalities was a trucker who authorities saw drive his semi into high water Monday morning 15 miles north of downtown before he was found dead. Houston is Harris County’s seat.
     It’s unknown whether a medical condition contributed to his death, the Chronicle reported.
     The circumstances of the death of the second victim, who was found a few miles west of the trucker, are not known.
     Harris County officials confirmed two more deaths Monday afternoon and indicated they were occupants of a car seen on surveillance footage driving around a barricade into flood waters, according to the Chronicle.
     As of 2 p.m. Monday, Harris County officials told the newspaper that first responders had rescued 1,222 from rising waters in Houston and its suburbs. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner advised Houstonians to stay home Monday morning and METRO canceled its bus service for the day.
     The Harris County Flood Control District reported at 12:30 p.m. Monday that 13 creeks or bayous were “out of bank” and flooding homes.
     A report on KHOU Channel 11, Houston’s CBS affiliate, showed kids kayaking down their street in the western suburb Katy early Monday afternoon between nearly submerged mailboxes, tiny islands marking an impromptu channel, formed by overspill from Buffalo Bayou, the city’s main waterway that flows through downtown to the Houston Ship Channel.
     The flooding is causing heartache for residents of Meyerland, a southwestern suburb, who had recently finished remodeling their homes that were damaged by flooding last May, only to have them inundated by Monday’s deluge.
     Bush Intercontinental Airport, the city’s largest airport that is 20 miles north of downtown, halted ground operations and canceled 224 flights Monday with floodwaters choking off nearby roads, the Chronicle reported.
     Hobby Airport, on the city’s south side, reportedly canceled 54 flights Monday morning.
     Known as the Bayou City for the estimated 2,500 miles of waterways that wind through the area, Houston was built on a vast coastal plain. Its downtown area is 50 feet above sea level.
     Low-lying streets often flood within minutes of heavy rain and make driving treacherous.

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