In a Tuesday evening weather update, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that while Tropical Depression Beta continues to move slowly out of our region, it will likely keep dropping rain on the Houston area for “about 12 more hours."
After south and southwest Houston were battered by heavy rainfall Monday night and through the early hours of Tuesday, Turner said Beta is now heading northeast.
“We will reposition additional assets on the north [and] northeast,” Turner said. He listed Aldine, Greenspoint and Kingwood as areas that are expected to see heavy rain over the rest of this evening and into the night.
Just before Turner’s evening press conference, the flash flood warning for Harris County was extended from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. METRO has also announced that all bus and train service will be suspended as of 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
Turner said that 11 cases of structural damage due to flooding have been reported to the city, including eight residential homes, most of which were in south and southwest Houston.
“The good news is that we haven’t gotten any reports of anybody who’s been seriously injured, or any loss of life or anything of that nature,” Turner said.
Despite being prone to flooding, Meyerland so far has been spared from dangerously high waters due to Beta, said Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock. Turner said that he believes the ongoing Project Brays flood mitigation project “has proven to be beneficial” and is a key reason Meyerland didn’t fare worse as Beta blew through the area.
Haddock reported that the city still has barricades up “at 45 locations,” down from over 70 that Turner said were in place just before noon Tuesday. She reported that 400 calls for trees or debris in the right of way have been called-in to the city and all have been resolved except for 15. Haddock also said that 130 reports of road flooding have come in throughout Tuesday, but only 20 remain unresolved.
White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou “got really close” to spilling over, said Haddock, but didn’t ever exceed their banks on Tuesday. Turner also said that “additional resiliency measures” put into place to protect the Wortham Theater downtown have so far saved the building from flood damage.
Not mentioned by Turner or Haddock in Tuesday evening’s press conference were domestic wastewater spills at five locations on Tuesday due to Beta's heavy rain: 1424 Wrightwood Street, 1222 Wrightwood Street, 800 Commerce Street, 308 Washington Avenue, and 201 Girard Street.
A press release reporting the spills stated that “greater than 100,000 gallons” of wastewater are estimated to have been released at each of these five locations because of sustained rainfall “greater than 10 inches in the last 24 hours.”
As required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Public Works Department recommended that any residents who use private drinking water wells “located within ½-mile of the spill site or within the potentially affected area” should only use water that has been distilled or boiled for at least one minute until further notice.
As of Tuesday evening, the Houston Police Department has towed 126 cars and performed 33 flood rescues. The Houston Fire Department has responded to more than 800 calls for service, over 50 of which were due to high water.
“A lot of water has fallen on this city in 24 hours, more than was anticipated,” said Turner. He then said that there’s only one culprit for the incredible amount of storms that have formed during this tumultuous hurricane season: global warming.
“We recognize the storms are coming with greater frequency and intensity,” he said, and then immediately touted his administration’s Climate Action Plan as proof that he takes that threat seriously. “Climate change is real, okay? And we are addressing that in a very meaningful way.”