After Flooding, Gov. Abbott Declares Harris County a Disaster Area

Gov. Greg Abbott and Mayor Annise Parker spoke at the Houston Office of Emergency Management Tuesday afternoonEXPAND
Gov. Greg Abbott and Mayor Annise Parker spoke at the Houston Office of Emergency Management Tuesday afternoon
Michael Barajas

At a stop in Houston Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he's added Harris County to the list of over 40 Texas counties considered disaster areas after weekend downpours led to flooding that has ravaged the state, particularly Central Texas. 

Hinting at the massive scope of flooding across the state, Abbott said he's made disaster declarations "from literally the Red River to the Rio Grande." Abbott told reporters that family members of one of his own staffers were swept up during the "tsunami-style rise" of the Blanco River in the Texas Hill Country and haven't been seen since. Abbott compared the Memorial Day flood with the torrential rains that pummeled Houston during 2001's Tropical Storm Allison, saying, "This and Tropical storm Allison are the two worst floodings I've ever seen." 

Mayor Annise Parker said authorities have confirmed that at least four people died in the flooding here. Two of those bodies, she said, were recovered from submerged cars, while the third victim was discovered floating in Brays Bayou. And that body count may rise as the waters recede in the hours. Less than an hour after Parker wrapped up her press conference with Abbott, officials announced that a fourth body that had been found in Brays Bayou; authorities say the man may have been one of three people who fell into the bayou when an HFD evacuation boat capsized during a rescue mission Tuesday morning.

After Flooding, Gov. Abbott Declares Harris County a Disaster Area
Photo by Abrahan Garza

Parker said that the earliest estimates show that at least 4,000 homes across Houston sustained property damage during the flood. She cautioned that that number could go up. "That's a very raw estimate based on eyes in the sky," she said. "Until we actually get eyes on those neighborhoods, we won't know." 

Parker said she's "cautiously optimistic" that the Houston area won't see significant rain for the next 24 to 48 hours, which she said would allow for the bayous to return to their banks. Since this morning, she said, city officials have been towing cars abandoned in the floodwaters. So far at least 750 vehicles pulled from the water sit in city impound lots. 

While the city has set up two shelters, at the Chinese and Acres Homes community centers, for anyone displaced by the floodwaters, less than 100 people have so far sought shelter, Parker said. If you abandoned your car during the flooding, go to findmytowedcar.com to try and track it down. 


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