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Houston area faces ‘life-threatening’ flooding conditions as severe weather hits Texas

Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for dozens of counties.

The Houston area is facing “life-threatening” flooding conditions, officials warned, as severe weather hits parts of Texas.

A flood watch is in effect Thursday for southeast Texas and Louisiana. Numerous flash flood warnings are also in effect, with up to 8 inches of rain already falling in parts of southeast Texas on Thursday. Additional rain is expected to continue through Friday in these areas.

Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration as severe weather and flooding threatened the state.

“As severe weather and flooding conditions continue in multiple regions of Texas, I expanded the disaster declaration to add 59 counties to ensure Texans and their communities receive the assistance and support they need to stay safe,” he said. the governor in a statement. “For Texans in at-risk areas, it is important to remain weather aware, follow guidelines from state and local officials, and avoid traveling during dangerous flood conditions. The State of Texas continues to work with emergency management and local officials to deploy any additional resources needed to provide continued support and protect our fellow Texans.”

Harris County officials also issued a disaster declaration Thursday and called for mandatory evacuations for residents living closer to the banks of the East Fork of the San Jacinto River due to continued flooding and heavy rain north of the area.

“We want them out of this area,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during a news conference Thursday. “This is a life-threatening situation.”

The river is expected to reach 77 feet above sea level on Friday. The water level will be several feet below where it was during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Hidalgo said. Normally the river is between 45 and 50 feet above sea level, she said.

Those who cannot leave will likely be trapped in their homes for two or three days, he warned.

“Extreme” river flooding is expected to affect Central and East Texas river basins over the next week, with “historic” releases by lake and reservoir operators amid heavy rain exacerbating flooding conditions, the agency said. governor’s office.

Flooding has caused road closures in the region. Abbott’s office said state rescuers assisted with “multiple” high-water rescues in central and southeast Texas overnight, while urging residents to monitor forecasts and follow instructions from local emergency officials. .

Residents are also being affected by power outages amid the bad weather. More than 20,000 Houston-area customers were without power Thursday night, according to CenterPoint Energy’s outage tracker.