Houston, Recovering, Warned of More Rain

     HOUSTON (CN) — Floodwater is receding in Houston from a Monday storm that dropped 17 inches of rain and killed eight people, but officials warned residents that rainfall predicted for Thursday could bring more flooding.
     The National Weather Service says up to 2 inches of rain could fall in parts of Greater Houston on Thursday. That amount typically wouldn’t be cause for concern, but with creeks and bayous still swollen from Monday’s deluge, it could bring disaster.
     Around 1,150 homes and apartments were flooded by the storm that stalled over northwest Houston early Monday morning. Emergency personnel received more than 1,800 calls for help from people stranded by high water, the Houston Chronicle reported.
     The storm was the strongest to inundate the area since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which killed 23 people in Texas and left 30,000 homeless in Houston, Harris County’s seat.
     In a Wednesday editorial, the Houston Chronicle blamed elected officials for not enforcing regulations Harris County passed in the 1980s that require stormwater detention ponds be built in all new commercial developments.
     The Harris County Flood Control District reported Wednesday night that water levels in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, formed by earthen dams that straddle Interstate 10, 20 miles upstream of downtown Houston, reached record levels this week and are expected to peak early next week.
     “Roadways that run through both reservoirs are underwater and will remain impassable for several days up to several weeks,” the district said in a statement.
     Harris County crews found standing water in some subdivisions near the reservoirs Wednesday and the flood control district warned residents Wednesday night that the water might continue to rise as tributaries drain.
     The Army Corps of Engineers operates the dams and usually keeps their gates open for stormwater to flow freely into Buffalo Bayou, which flows through downtown Houston.
     The Corps of Engineers closes the gates before a predicted heavy rainfall and slowly releases it to protect downstream structures.
     Harris County officials said they planned to submit a disaster relief application to the federal government on Wednesday, Houston’s NPR affiliate reported.
     If granted, the federal funds could be used by residents and local governments to repair storm damage.

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