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Forecast brings Houston hope Storm expected to weaken but dangers are far from over

Zoom  Zoom Issue Date:2017-08-31   Browse:750
HOUSTON, Texas - The latest weather forecast delivered hope to Houston after five days of torrential rain submerged the nation's fourth-largest city: less than an inch of rain and perhaps even sunshine.
But the dangers remained far from over on Wednesday. With at least 18 dead and 13,000 people rescued in the Houston area and surrounding cities and counties in Southeast Texas, others were still trying to escape from their inundated homes.
Weakened levees were in danger of failing and a less-ferocious but still potent Harvey returned to shore, making landfall in southwestern Louisiana, where some areas have already seen more than 46 centimeters of rain.
The situation was dire early on Wednesday in Port Arthur, Texas, near the Louisiana border, where homes were starting to fill with rising floodwaters and residents were unsure how to evacuate the city, KFDM-TV reported. Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens said county resources could not get to Port Arthur because of the flooding.
Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said on his Facebook page that the "city is underwater right now but we are coming!" He also urged residents to get to higher ground.
Authorities expected the human toll to continue to mount, both in deaths and in the tens of thousands of people made homeless by the catastrophic storm that is now the heaviest tropical downpour in US history.
In all, more than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters, and that number seemed certain to increase, the American Red Cross said.
Houston's largest shelter housed 10,000 of the displaced twice its initial intended capacity as two additional mega-shelters opened on Tuesday for the overflow.
In an apparent response to scattered reports of looting, a curfew was put into effect from midnight to 5 am, with police saying violators would be questioned, searched and arrested.
A much-weakened Tropical Storm Harvey steered into new territory, coming ashore again early on Wednesday just west of Cameron, Louisiana, with maximum sustained winds of 72 km/h, the National Hurricane Center said.
Harvey is expected to weaken, but will slog through Louisiana for much of the day before taking its downpours north. Arkansas, Tennessee and parts of Missouri are on alert for Harvey flooding in the next couple of days.
"Once we get this thing inland during the day, it's the end of the beginning," said National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen. "Texas is going to get a chance to finally dry out as this system pulls out."
But Feltgen cautioned: "We're not done with this. There's still an awful lot of real estate and a lot of people who are going to feel the impacts of the storm."
Still, the reprieve from the rain in Houston was welcome.
Eugene Rideaux, a 42-year-old mechanic who showed up at Osteen's Lakewood Church to sort donations for evacuees, said he had not been able to work or do much since the storm first hit, so he was eager to get out of his dark house and help.
"It's been so dark for days now, I'm just ready to see some light. Some sunshine. I'm tired of the darkness," Rideaux said. "But it's a tough city, and we're going to make this into a positive and come together."
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