Thousands stranded in rising floodwaters as more rain pours down in Texas

By: Brian Monahan , Glenn Burns , Brad Nitz

Updated:

HOUSTON - The death toll is expected to rise as rain continues to fall in Texas and officials fear the worst from Tropical Storm Harvey.

Channel 2's newspaper partner The Austin American-Statesman says the death toll is now up to 15

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan and photographer Oscar Carrillo De Albornoz have been on the ground for days in Houston, surveying the damage and reporting on the flooding for Channel 2 Action News.


WSB-TV is teaming up with many of our Cox Media Group partners to send a "Convoy of Care" to Harvey victims in Texas. CLICK HERE for all the information on our #AtlantaCares initiative!

CLICK HERE for much more in-depth coverage of Tropical Storm Harvey from Channel 2’s newspaper partner The Austin American-Statesman.


Monahan said he’s seen families dealing with nearly 5 feet of rain in some areas. He will continue his live coverage throughout the week on Channel 2 Action News.

On Monday, Monahan helped rescue residents with a couple he met in Houston. Monahan sent out a tweet and received a number of requests from people stranded and in need of help.

He went on an airboat with the couple as they rescued families and even animals.

We'll have continuing LIVE coverage from on the ground in Houston throughout the week on Channel 2 Action News.

Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns said up to 8 inches has fallen in the last 24 hours and more is expected later this week. He said Harvey will take its time to move out of the area.

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“It’s very slowly going to drift to the north over the course of the next week, so that’s going to be moving from Houston all the way up to east of Dallas over the course of the entire week,” Burns said.

Floodwaters reach roofs of homes

Floodwaters reached the roof lines of single-story homes Monday, and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey kept pouring rain on the Houston area after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues.

The nation's fourth-largest city was still largely paralyzed, and there was no relief in sight from the storm that spun into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, then parked itself over the Gulf Coast. With nearly 2 feet of rain still expected, authorities worried whether the worst was yet to come. 

A meteorologist has calculated that by the end of Wednesday Harvey will have saturated southeast Texas with enough water to fill all the NFL and Division 1 college football stadiums more than 100 times over.

Harvey flooding in Texas
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Water gushed from two reservoirs overwhelmed by Harvey as officials sought to release pressure on a pair of dams that were at risk of failing from the immense floodwaters that filled the city. The move aimed at protecting the downtown business district risked flooding thousands more homes.

Meanwhile, rescuers continued plucking people from the floodwaters - at least 2,000 so far, according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

[PHOTO: Heroes of Harvey: Images of inspiration during devastating flooding]

A television station reported that six family members are believed to have drowned in Houston when their van was swept away by floodwaters.

Acevedo told The Associated Press he has no information about the KHOU report but added that he's "really worried about how many bodies we're going to find" from Harvey's devastating flooding.

Harvey impacting gas prices 

Georgia's Environmental Protection Division is asking the federal EPA to allow conveniences stores to begin selling winter blend gasoline immediately.

The request is designed to utilize gasoline currently in storage in Georgia, awaiting the switch over from summer blend gasoline scheduled for September 15.

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Thirteen Georgia counties are required to pump the cleaner summer blend during the peak driving season.  The move to begin using winter blend immediately will open a supply channel which would otherwise not be available for three more weeks.

"It is a big deal to be able to put that mix, that winter blend in the ground because it helps us maintain supply," said Angela Holland of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

Gasoline supplies appear to be adequate in the wake of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey, although prices have risen significantly since the storm hit.

"What we're going to see is kind of like an ocean wave effect.  Prices will go up, but we'll see a nice decline again, later on," said consumer advisor Clark Howard.

President Trump issues federal emergency declaration 

President Donald Trump issued a federal emergency declaration on Monday for five parishes in southwest Louisiana: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermillion. More areas can be added later.

A White House statement says the action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts. The declaration also authorizes the federal government to cover 75 percent of costs of certain emergency protective measures.

Edwards requested the declaration in a letter to the White House on Sunday.

"Significant lifesaving efforts such as search and rescue, transportation to shelters, logistical support, and shelter operations will be particularly needed in parts of southwest Louisiana and can be supported by the federal government with an emergency declaration," the governor wrote.

Metro woman says family dealing with Harvey's wrath in Houston

The devastation in Texas has a metro Atlanta woman trying to stay in touch with family members trapped in some of the hardest hit communities.

Channel 2's Audrey Washington spoke with one woman and one of her relatives in Houston who are bracing for more rain.

"We've got some streets in the woodlands that are definitely under water,” said Mary-Lynne Ruffer.

The devastating images really tell the story; Rising flood waters, heavy rain and daring rescues.

Ruffer's sister, Ann O’Brien, said she can do nothing but, check in and wait for updates, from her Forsyth County home.

O’Brien is also working desperately to stay in contact with her cousins, who did not evacuate. They're now trapped in their Houston home.

"She's in a shelter lock down which means they're not in a life or death situation, they're just waiting to be rescued,” O’Brien said.

Washington spoke with Ruffer over the phone, who said water is rushing near her home, but has not yet flooded. 

Flood waters near Ruffer's home in Houston

She said Texans are strong and will make it through this.

"Definitely Texas is a tough state and we're survivors for sure, so they'll survive this too, it's just very unfortunate,” Ruffer said.

Back in the Atlanta area, O’Brien has her family and others stuck in Houston on her mind.

"Just praying it stops raining and they get to safety,” O’Brien said.

O'Brien said her cousins will just have to ride things out inside their Houston home. She said she'll continue to check on them as much as possible.

Help the victims of Hurricane Harvey

Beginning Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. WSB Channel 2 Action News will be collecting bottled water, filling up a truck and taking it to Houston.

This version if "Convoy of Care" will be hosted by Cox Media Group - specifically WSB-TV, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, News 95-5 and AM 750, KISS 104.1 and 97.1 The River.

If you're interested in donating, bring your bottled water to the Channel 2 Action News station (1601 W Peachtree Street NE Atlanta, GA 30309) between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

Help us spread the word using #AtlantaCares.

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