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Imelda soaks Texas

The remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda unleashed torrential rain Thursday in parts of Texas and Louisiana, prompting hundreds of water rescues, a hospital evacuation and road closures as the powerful storm system drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said there had been a combination of at least 1,000 high-water rescues and evacuations to get people to shelter, in anticipation of the threat lingering.

Although the amount of predicted rainfall is massive — forecasters say some places could see 40 inches or more this week — Imelda's deluge is largely targeting areas east of Houston.

The Houston area faced heavy rains Thursday, leading forecasters to issue a flash flood emergency through midday Thursday for Harris County. In that area, forecasters said 3 to 5 inches of rain is possible per hour.

Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston — the fourth-largest city in the U.S. — joined other Texas officials in urging drivers to stay off the roads. And even as the intensity of the deluge around Houston began to weaken in some parts, the area of 4.7 million people was still getting drenched with 1-2 inches of rain an hour, and some areas were warned that the high water in their neighbourhoods might not recede until the weekend.

"We're still putting water on top of water," said Jeff Linder, meteorologist of the Harris County Flood Control District.

No reports of deaths or injuries related to the storm were immediately reported Thursday.

East of Houston, some local officials said the rainfall was causing flooding. In Winnie, a town of about 3,200 people 60 miles east of Houston, a hospital was evacuated and water was inundating homes and businesses.

"It's as bad as I've ever seen it. Right now I'm in an absolute deluge of rain," Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said Thursday morning as he took cover under a carport at an auto dealership in Winnie. The town "looks like a lake."

Hawthorne said emergency workers completed more than 300 rescues overnight and some residents were up on their roofs because of rising floodwaters.

Airboats from the sheriff's office and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department were helping with the rescues, along with high-water vehicles, Hawthorne said.

"Right now, as a Texas sheriff, the only thing that I really want is for people to pray that it will quit raining," he added.



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