World Bulletin / News Desk
Torrential downpours and mass flooding from Hurricane Harvey may have already destroyed as many as 40,000 homes in the Houston area, a county judge said Wednesday.
"We have people who are on the second flood of their homes. They're riding it out, and they're waiting for the waters to go down," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said on morning talk show Good Morning America.
"Working with the federal government and the state government, we've got to get those people back into their normal lives as soon as possible," said Emmett, who is also the director of the county's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo urged residents to refrain from returning home, at least for now, due to concerns that live electric wires could lead to additional deaths and injuries.
"We don’t want any more tragedies," he said.
Harvey, now a tropical storm, made landfall in southwest Louisiana around 4 a.m. local time (0900GMT) after crippling Houston, Texas and surrounding areas with flood waters.
Houston was battered by five consecutive days of rain that broke national records and overburdened the city's dam and levee system. Many neighborhoods were flooded in order to prevent some dams from catastrophically failing.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimated that 24,000 National Guardsmen will be deployed to his state, up from the 14,000 currently there.
Abbott said recovery assistance could exceed $125 billion.
In all, 33 counties are part of a federal disaster declaration, he said.
At least 24 people have been reported dead in the disaster, including a law enforcement officer, and more than 8,500 have been rescued in Houston alone.
As the waters retreat, Arkema SA said its industrial chemical plant northeast of Texas faces real potential for fire and/or explosion after some temperature-sensitive chemicals lost refrigeration "due to extremely high water."
But the company said it does not believe there is any imminent danger and is working with authorities to address the issue.
"We have no higher priority than the safety of our employees, neighbors and the environment. We have been working without pause to keep our materials safe," it said in a statement.
The Harris County Fire Marshall's Office confirmed that a 1.5-mile (2.41-kilometer) evacuation area around the plant remains in effect and was not sure when it might be lifted.Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Ağustos 2017, 09:42