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Tropical Storm Beta Floods Houston Area; Standing Water Closes Interstate, Highways

Published in 23 September, 2020

At a Glance

  • Parts of Interstate 69 and State Highway 288 were closed by flooding.

  • High water rescue teams responded to dozens of calls for help.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued disaster declarations for 29 counties.

  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency.

Tropical Storm Beta, which made landfall late Monday in coastal Texas, covered streets throughout Houston with water and was causing flooding in parts of Louisiana battered last month by Hurricane Laura. Beta was downgraded to a tropical depression as it slowly moved over the coast. Cameron Parish, Louisiana, where Laura came ashore Aug. 27, was already seeing some impacts from Beta Tuesday afternoon. “We definitely have some flooding in the low-lying southern parts of the parish,” Sheriff Ron Johnson told the Daily Advertiser. “No houses or structures have flooded, but some roads are impassable. It’s affecting us as to how we get where.” People with campers were advised to leave. Overall, there weren’t many residents to evacuate since so many lost their homes to Laura, Johnson said. Earlier in Houston, dozens of streets were closed by fast-rising water, including parts of Interstate 69 and Interstate 45 and State Highways 288 and 290. Officials urged residents to stay home and avoid driving if possible. Beta was expected to drag along near the Texas Gulf Coast through Wednesday and then over Louisiana and Mississippi on Wednesday night through Friday. More than a foot of rain has already fallen in some areas and more is expected. Drivers began abandoning cars that stalled in the high water on 288, according to KTRK. Video from the area showed about a half dozen pickup trucks submerged in water with their doors open. First responders conducted nearly 100 high-water rescues in Houston, the Houston Chronicle reported. Many were on the south side of the city near where Keegans Bayou overflowed its banks. At a morning briefing, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city had not received any reports of structural flooding. “My hope is over the next 24 hours that will remain the case, but that will depend on Mother Nature,” Turner said. The heavy rain began falling Monday night and quickly swamped parts of southwest Houston. Diners at one restaurant came out to find their cars underwater, KTRK reported. Employees of businesses in the area waded to an elevated freeway to call for rides home.   School districts across southeast Texas closed schools and pushed classes online or canceled them altogether. The storm made landfall about 10 p.m. CDT Monday just north of Port O’Connor, Texas, on the southern end of the Matagorda Peninsula, about 110 miles southwest of Houston. As the storm headed toward shore, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued a man onboard a disabled 20-foot vessel two miles south of the Port Aransas Jetties, east of Corpus Christi. The man was taken to the Mustang Beach Airport in Port Aransas.   Streets, cars and buildings were flooded in parts of coastal Texas, including Rockport, Corpus Christi, Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula. Some subdivisions in Surfside Beach that flooded Sunday night were still under water Tuesday. “We fared well, better than the night before,” Police Chief Gary Phillips told the Houston Chronicle. “The water is going down and we will be assessing the damage as soon as possible.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued disaster declarations for 29 counties Monday. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also declared a state of emergency, saying those impacted last month by Hurricane Laura should remain especially vigilant.

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