After a long day of hundreds of high-water rescues, evacuations from homes to shelters and thousands of calls to 911, Mayor Sylvester Turner briefed the press and Houstonians on the city's ongoing response to the epic, record-breaking floods that have consumed the city since Saturday evening.
And Turner didn't parse words: It's going to get worse before it gets better.
"I don’t want to treat this as if the storm as come and passed," he said. "This is day two. There will be day three, day four, and maybe day 5. What I’m saying to Houstonians is please be very patient, because quite frankly you put yourself in danger if you’re on the street."
As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the Houston police and fire departments have jointly received more than 6,000 calls for high-water rescues and have responded to more than 1,000, Turner said. The 911 call center has received more than 56,000 calls for service since 10 p.m. Saturday—compared to its average of 8,000 calls in 24 hours. And more than 67,000 people in the greater Houston area have lost power.
About two feet of rain has fallen on some places in Houston in the last 24 hours.
More than 200 residents at two apartment complexes in the Greenspoint area were evacuated late last night and are now at the M.O. Campbell Education Center, while more than 1,000 people across Houston who have been flooded out of their homes were taken to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Metro is assisting with the transportation (but regular service remains suspended). More than 300 people are at Dobie High School, a Pasadena ISD school, and scores more are scattered at a total of nine shelters open at multi-service centers across Houston.
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The Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management put out a call to residents who own boats, asking for assistance with the high-water rescues, while HPD Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite said police forces from other cities will be heading to Houston for reinforcements. Earlier this afternoon, Chief Art Acevedo said his all-hands-on-deck department was "going on fumes," but had completed 90 flood rescue missions, saving more than 1,100 people.
Turner said 22 aircrafts, with 16 from the U.S. Coast Guard, have been assisting with locating people stranded on their roofs or in water across Houston. First responders from various state, local and federal agencies have 35 rescue boats and 93 high-water rescue vehicles at their disposal.
"Frankly, we simply did not have enough assets within our existing inventory to meet the demands [at first]," Turner said. "I am very thankful we were able to obtain additional high water vehicles."
The National Weather Service has forecast 15 to 25 more inches for the Houston area over the course of the next several days. Officials are still advising everyone to stay inside and off the roads, and not to retreat to the attic if your home is experiencing extreme flooding; instead they advise going to the roof so rescue aircraft can find you.