18 Texan counties covered by a disaster declaration approved by President Trump

Two people have died in the Houston area in flood-related deaths as torrential rain continues to fall, according to the National Weather Service.

Hurrican Harvey

At least five people have died during the storm.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott activated 3,000 federal and state guard members and said 18 counties are now under the disaster declaration Sunday.

The White House announced President Donald Trump plans to travel to Texas Tuesday.

Houston’s Hobby airport will be closed until at least Wednesday due to flooding on the runways and roads.

All of the Houston Independent School District’s schools and offices will be closed for the week.

Dallas is preparing its convention center to become a “mega shelter” for evacuees.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has activated 3,000 national and state guard members after Harvey dumped more than two feet of rain on Houston metro, causing historic flooding from rainfall that has been characterized by the National Weather Service as “beyond anything experienced before.”

A voluntary evacuation was posted for residents in the Inverness Forest Subdivision north of Whitestone Lane, including east and west Greenbrook Drive and Kenchester Drive. Cypress Creek near I-45 could top the levee by Monday morning, according to the Harris County Flood Control District.

“There is life-threatening, catastrophic flooding happening now in Southeast Harris County,” Jeff Lindner of the Harris County Flood Control District told The Weather Channel.

Two people have died in the Houston area in flood-related deaths as torrential rain continues to fall, according to the National Weather Service.

The Harris County medical examiner’s office confirmed a woman was killed in flooding Saturday, according to AP. She appeared to have exited her vehicle in high water and was found 30 yards away by neighbors. The Houston Fire Department said a man died in floodwaters overnight Saturday into Sunday.  Two people reportedly died in Galveston County Sunday.

Dr. Greg Postel, meteorologist and hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel, said the flooding unfolding in the Houston area “could be the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history;” and Gov. Abbott, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said: “We’re measuring rain these days not in inches but in feet.”

In an on-air phone interview with The Weather Channel Sunday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said the number 1 challenge for emergency officials right now is securing more assets for high water rescues.

He added that he spoke with Gov. Abbott, who says they have 60 boats, 20 helicopters, 600 troopers and 3000 National Guard soldiers mobilized to help rescue people.

In addition to the rescue crews, Cruz said residents with flat-bottomed boats have been assisting with saving people from flooded homes. He thanked Texas residents and those pitching in from other states, describing the outpouring of help as “inspirational” and a reminder that “there’s a lot more that unites us.”

Despite the outpouring of help, Cruz says this is an active crisis situation and the need for rescue assets will only continue to grow.

Sunday President Donald Trump tweeted that he would visit Texas “as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption,” the Associated Press reports. The White House later announced that the trip would be made Tuesday.

Officials in Dallas are preparing the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center to become a “mega shelter”for Harvey evacuees, CBS DFW reports. Office of Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz said they hope to take in evacuees by Tuesday morning.

“We have been advised by the state to be prepared for up to 5,000 evacuees, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to accommodate our fellow Texans who may need assistance,” said Vaz.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that as of 5 p.m. local time Sunday, the city received nearly 6,000 calls for rescues and that more than 1,000 have been rescued, AP reports.

He urged people to “remain calm, remain patient.” He noted that most thoroughfares are impassable and said he’s ordered neighborhoods to open libraries and multi-service centers to offer “lilypad” safe havens for people who cannot flee the city because of flooded roads.

“I don’t care if there is no food or water there, I just need to have a safe place for people to go,” he said.

Gov. Abbott says 18 counties are now covered by a disaster declaration approved by President Donald Trump, according to AP. Almost 7 million people live within those counties, out of Texas’ overall population of 27.8 million.

Sunday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it plans to begin releasing water into Buffalo Bayou from the Barker and Addicks reservoirs on the western outskirts of Houston, according to AP. Col. Lars Zetterstorm said water will be very slowly released from the dams Monday morning to prevent uncontrollable flooding in downtown Houston and the Houston Ship Channel.

He described the water contained by the dams as “unparalleled in the dams’ history.” The waters are rising by roughly 4 inches ever hour.

When reporters asked why no evacuations were ordered despite days of warnings from the National Weather Service, Turner said it would have been “too dangerous” to have millions of residents on the road, noting that “if you think the situation right now is bad and you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare.”

“The best place is for people to remain in their homes,” he said.

The mayor and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez urged people to only use 911 in dire emergencies, noting that dispatchers were struggling to keep up with the calls.

“Difficult to get to everyone right away,” Gonzalez tweeted. “Hang tight.”

The National Weather Service is warning people to seek shelter on their roofs rather than in attics to avoid becoming trapped by rushing water.

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