The Latest: Evacuee airlift into Dallas-Fort Worth begins

Wilford Martinez, Richard Wagner_437915

Wilford Martinez, right, is rescued from his flooded car by Harris County Sheriff’s Department Richard Wagner along Interstate 610 in floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on Tropical Storm Harvey (all times local):

7:20 p.m.

The first large round of evacuees from Southeast Texas has arrived in Dallas.

A steady rain met a U.S. Air Force C-130 transport plane as it landed at Dallas Love Field about 6:30 p.m. Monday with about 70 evacuees. Pet dogs barked as evacuees carrying trash bags and backpacks were loaded onto a bus shortly after landing.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the plane was the first of a possible eight planeloads of evacuees expected to be flown into Dallas.

The evacuees will be housed at smaller emergency shelters around the Dallas-Fort Worth area while city workers, partner organizations and volunteers finish preparing the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas. Jason Carriere is the police department emergency management coordinator in the Dallas suburb of Irving. He said in a Monday email that Irving’s makeshift emergency shelter was prepared to take in about 200 people.

As many as 5,000 evacuees may begin arriving some time Tuesday.


6:55 p.m.

Officials in Baytown, a refinery suburb east of Houston, are urging residents of two subdivisions along a rain-swollen bayou to put white towels or sheets on their windows to alert evacuation teams to rescue them.

Baytown spokeswoman Patti Jett says the 2,000 residents of Pinehurst and Whispering Pines subdivisions must be cleared out by nightfall, when non-life-threatening rescues will stop.

Jett says the sheets and towels in the windows will allow rescuers to better identify people they need to reach.

The neighborhoods border swift-flowing Cedar Bayou.


6:30 p.m.

A Fort Bend County deputy and volunteers helped pull dozens of people trapped by flooding in their Sugar Land, Texas neighborhood to safety using a dump truck. People in the Village of Oak Lake subdivision trudged through knee-to-waist high water on West Airport Road to avoid being trapped.

Many of those rescued are now sheltering at Constellation Field, home to the unaffiliated minor baseball team the Sugar Land Skeeters. The team has welcomed people to stay inside until they can return to their homes.

The owners of baseball team, Marcie and Bob Zlotnik, say they offered to open up Constellation Field and Sugarland’s mayor accepted. Bob Zlotnik says: “We’re doing what we can to help people out.”

He says they have about 200 people staying there now and can hold 500 people.


6 p.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is adding four East Texas counties to the 54 Southeast Texas counties already covered by his Hurricane Harvey disaster declaration.

The Republican on Monday added Angelina, Trinity, Sabine and Orange counties to the counties already declared disaster areas. The declaration makes it easier for the state to manage resources essential for search, rescue and relief.


5:30 p.m.

A meteorologist has calculated that by the end of Wednesday Harvey will have saturated southeast Texas with enough water to fill all the NFL and Division 1 college football stadiums more than 100 times over.

Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics says that already 15 trillion gallons (57 trillion liters) of rain have fallen on a large area, and an additional 5 trillion (19 trillion liters) or 6 trillion gallons (23 trillion liters) are forecast by the end of Wednesday.

An Army Corps of Engineers official said Monday that Harvey is bringing amounts of rainfall seen only once in a thousand years.

Edmond Russo, a Corps deputy district engineer for Texas, made the comment at a Houston news conference Monday

Two dams — at Barker Reservoir and Addicks Reservoir — protecting downtown Houston and under the Corps’ management are built to withstand 1,000-year floods. Some levees in outlying areas are designed to protect against flooding that happens every 100 or 200 years.

Meteorologists say that sometime Tuesday or early Wednesday parts of the Houston region will break the nearly 40-year-old U.S. record for the biggest rainfall from a tropical system — 48 inches, set by Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978 in Texas.


5 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Harvey has slightly increased in strength as it went back to warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

It now has sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph), up 5 mph (8 kph).

Forecasters expect Harvey to stay over water and at 45 mph (72 kph) for 36 hours and then head back inland east of Houston sometime Wednesday. The forecast has the storm then zipping north and losing its tropical storm strength and then its tropical characteristics.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.


4:20 p.m.

Officials say the ongoing release of water from two flood-control reservoirs in the Houston area is not expected to increase the levels of a swollen bayou that runs through heavily populated neighborhoods in west and central Houston and through the city’s downtown.

Buffalo Bayou has swollen due to torrential rain from Harvey.

Jeff Lindner is a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District. He said Monday that levels on Buffalo Bayou have fallen from where they were Sunday. He says they’re holding steady despite the ongoing release of water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs in west Houston.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the controlled release into Buffalo Bayou is being done to relief pressure on the two aging reservoirs. The Corps says if the releases weren’t done, excess water could go over the reservoirs’ spillways and flood a large area.


3:55 p.m.

Authorities say a woman has been killed in the Houston area when a large tree dislodged by heavy rains from Harvey toppled onto her trailer home.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Captain Bryan Carlisle says that the woman was killed around noon Monday in Porter. Her husband has reported that she was napping when the tree fell. Porter Fire Department firefighters had to wade through chest-level water to evacuate the woman’s husband, remove the tree and extract the body.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.


3:25 p.m.

Volunteers have used a dump truck to rescue about 20 people from a flooded Houston-area neighborhood.

The rescue effort happened Monday after some residents of Sugar Land got a constable’s attention to say they needed help to escape the waist-deep water. The officer managed to arrange a private truck.

Several residents then used small rafts and air mattresses to float out to the vehicle. Children were handed from one person to another to be loaded into the back of the truck.

The truck then headed to dry land at a minor league baseball park that’s been opened up as a staging area for people to evacuate.

Volunteers on personal watercraft and in kayaks also helped evacuate people from the subdivision threatened by the fast-swelling Brazos River.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.


3 p.m.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the city is working on opening another “major” shelter for people fleeing flooding from Harvey as the George S. Brown Convention Center reaches capacity.

Turner toured the convention center Monday, hugging evacuees and asking how they were doing. The convention center was already more than halfway to its 5,000-person capacity.

Turner said the city was considering its options for another major shelter, but did not say which buildings could be used.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.


2:50 p.m.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is again praising the federal government’s response to Harvey.

Abbott said at a news conference in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Monday that he had spoken “on multiple occasions” to President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet.

Abbott said, “I would have to grade the federal government’s response as an A-plus.” He said the storm was “if not the largest, one of the largest disasters America has ever faced.” But he says, “to see the swift response from the federal government is pretty much unparalleled.”

Abbot expressed similar sentiments Sunday. It’s a departure for Abbott. He was elected governor in 2014 decrying federal “overreach” and boasting about using his former positon as Texas attorney general to sue the Obama administration nearly 30 times.


2:40 p.m.

Officials are preparing to evacuate one of the nation’s busiest trauma centers as flooding from Harvey threatened to compromise the hospital’s supply of medicine and food.

A spokesman at Houston’s Office of Emergency Management said Monday that all 350 patients at Ben Taub Hospital would be evacuated, hopefully within a day. Floodwater and sewage got into the main hospital building’s basement and affected pharmacy, food service and other key operations. Patients will be sent to other area hospitals until repairs are made.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center also canceled outpatient services, appointments and surgeries at all Houston-area locations through Tuesday, and was asking patients not to attempt to travel because of high water in the Texas Medical Center area.


2:35 p.m.

A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for a Southeast Texas city of about 20,000 that’s been inundated by Harvey floodwaters.

Dickinson police announced the city’s mandatory evacuation that took effect at 2 p.m. Monday.

Dickinson is a low-lying city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Houston. It’s along Dickinson Bayou. Crews on Sunday rescued more than 20 residents and staffers from an assisted-living center in Dickinson that flooded.

The police statement cited the fragile infrastructure in the city amid flooding, limited working utilities and concern for the forecast track of Harvey. Transportation was available for those needing help leaving Dickinson.


2:30 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says its response to Hurricane Harvey is “quickly drawing down” the reserves in the agency’s disaster fund.

FEMA says it’s prioritizing its response to Harvey over earlier disasters to stretch the life of its disaster aid fund to make sure it doesn’t run out of money.

In a message to Capitol Hill, FEMA says it will only fund immediate emergency response “so that FEMA can continue its focus on response and urgent recovery efforts without interruption.”

FEMA’s most recent report says it has more than $3 billion in its disaster fund. About half of that was supposed to be spent to respond to earlier disasters, but Monday’s announcement frees up more of the money for responding to Harvey.


2:10 p.m.

A television station is reporting that six family members are believed to have drowned in Houston when their van was swept away by floodwaters.

The KHOU-TV report was attributed to three family members the station didn’t identify. No bodies have been recovered.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo tells The Associated Press he has no information about the KHOU report but added that he’s “really worried about how many bodies we’re going to find” from Harvey’s devastating flooding.

According to the station, four children — the youngest, a 6-year-old girl — and their grandparents are feared dead after the van hit high floods Sunday afternoon when crossing a bridge in Greens Bayou.

The driver of the vehicle, the children’s great-uncle, reportedly escaped before the van was submerged and grabbed onto a tree limb as the van sunk. He told the children inside to try to escape through the back door, but they were unable to get out.


2 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush says he and former first lady Laura Bush are confident that communities hit by Harvey “will recover and thrive.”

Bush, who lives in Dallas, released a statement Monday that he and his wife are “proud of the people of Texas for showing the resilience and compassion of our state.” He says they’re “moved by the heroic work of the first responders and volunteers who are putting themselves at risk to save others.”

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.


1:45 p.m.

Texas regulators say a 150,000-barrel (6.3 million gallon) fuel storage tank spilled an unspecified amount of gasoline east of Houston after tilting over due to large volumes of rain from Harvey.

The spill occurred at Kinder Morgan’s Pasadena Terminal on Saturday. Ramona Nye with the Texas Railroad Commission says the fuel was captured by a containment dike at the facility and fire-retardant foam was sprayed over it to prevent an ignition. Company representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

In a second incident, a fiberglass storage tank operated by Karbuhn Oil Company burst into fire after being hit by lightning early Sunday morning. Nye says an estimated 5 barrels (210 gallons) of oil was released.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.


1:35 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Harvey is drifting “erratically” back toward the Gulf Coast after having moved inland since making landfall late Friday.

An advisory Monday afternoon from the center says life-threatening flooding continues for Houston and the broader southeastern Texas region.

Harvey has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph). The center says it may slowly intensify as it moves closer to the coast.

Harvey is forecast to turn back toward the northeast at some point Tuesday.

An additional 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rainfall is forecast through Friday and the center says other threats include tornadoes and a coastal storm surge of 1 to 3 feet (0.3 meter to 0.91 meter) moving inland from the coast.


1:10 p.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rates the two 70-year-old dams that protect Houston as among a handful of “extremely high risk” dams in the U.S.

Concerns include the way the two structures were built in the 1940s, and the threat to the people and property of the nation’s 4th-biggest city if they were to fail.

The Corps said Monday it was starting to release water from the two dams, called Addicks and Barker. The move would worsen flooding in some neighborhoods, but was necessary to prevent bigger, uncontrolled flows later, the Corps said in a statement.

The Houston dams are older than even the already high average age — 56 years — of dams in the United States. The Corps has acknowledged a long history of seepage through the dams. A $75 million fix to the two dams’ floodgates is slated for completion in 2019.

The Corps ‘”was confident that the structures continue to perform as they were designed to do,” it said in Monday’s statement.


12:40 p.m.

Officials say Houston’s 911 system has received and processed 75,000 calls since Harvey inundated many parts of the city.

That includes nearly 20,000 calls just since 10 p.m. Sunday.

Joe Laud is the administration manager for the Houston Emergency Center. He said Monday that 911 operators have been able to reduce the backlog of calls they have, going from 120 to 250 calls in their queue to 10 to 15 calls.

He says that on average, the system usually get 8,000 or 9,000 calls per day.

Laud says officials have also initiated a voice activated system that lets callers know that the 911 system has received their call and that they should stay on the phone until someone comes on the line. Laud says some people were apparently hanging up because they didn’t think their call would be answered.

Harvey made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.


12:20 p.m.

The federal government has enough disaster aid money to deal with the immediate aftermath of Harvey — for now.

But a multibillion dollar aid package is a sure bet to be added to an already packed agenda facing lawmakers when they return to Washington next week.

Top Capitol Hill aides say they have assurances from the Trump administration that the $3 billion balance in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster fund is enough to handle immediate needs, such as debris removal and temporary shelter for thousands of Texas residents displaced from their homes.

An infusion of more FEMA money will be needed soon, however, given the magnitude of the storm. It’s seen as a likely add-on to a temporary government-wide funding bill to prevent a shutdown in October.


12:10 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz says he won’t second-guess the decision not to ask Houston residents to evacuate before Harvey hit the city with heavy rain and wind.

The Texas Republican on Monday toured the downtown convention center housing thousands of evacuees. He says there will be “plenty of time after this disaster to look back in hindsight and see what lessons could be learned.”

Cruz said that the government “will do what is necessary to rebuild,” though he didn’t commit to voting for potential legislation to provide funding for the recovery.

Cruz wouldn’t comment on criticism from U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, that he didn’t vote for an aid package for Superstorm Sandy.

Cruz said, “This is not a time for politics.”


12 p.m.

Houston’s mayor says city officials are keeping watch on the ongoing release of water from two flood-control reservoirs in the Houston area to see if it might cause additional flooding in some neighborhoods.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the controlled release into Buffalo Bayou is being done to relief pressure on the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, which have been overwhelmed by flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey. The reservoirs help prevent flooding in downtown Houston and other urban areas to the east.

The release of water is expected to flood some neighborhoods near the reservoirs. And officials are worried that other homes in areas near Buffalo Bayou, which had gone out of its banks, could be impacted as well.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he’s asking the Harris County Flood Control District for more information on how much higher Buffalo Bayou could rise and whether that could result in more homes in west Houston being flooded.


11:55 a.m.

Officials in Houston are working to pump out water from one of its water treatment plants, which has been submerged by rainfall from Harvey.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday that the plant, in the northeast part of the city, remains operational.

Turner said most of the Houston water supply will be OK. But if the plant drops to below 20 percent capacity, the city might be forced to issue a notice to residents to boil their water.

Officials say because the plant is under water, it is difficult for workers to get equipment to the site and to do any adjustments and maintenance.

Harvey made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.


11:40 a.m.

Water in a Houston-area neighborhood along a creek that’s overflowing has reached the roofline of single-story homes.

People can be heard yelling for help from inside homes in the Cypress Forest Estates subdivision in northern Harris County also can be heard as a steady procession of rescue boats head into the area.

One man, Joe Garcia, wearing a blue jacket and a New York Mets cap, was carrying his German Shepherd, Heidi, in chest-deep water before he was picked up by a boat. Garcia said he floated out a tub of his belongings, then went back in to get his dog.

The current is swift and the waters have continued to rise Monday.


11:15 a.m.

Texas’ governor is activating the entire Texas National Guard for search and rescue efforts following Hurricane Harvey, bringing the total deployment to roughly 12,000.

Gov. Gregg Abbott said Monday that it’s “imperative we do everything possible” to protect lives. About 3,000 guard members had already been mobilized along the Texas coast.

Abbott says Texas is now activating others who are physically able and not currently deployed elsewhere.

Houston officials say they have rescued more than 2,000 people from flooding in the city. Harvey made landfall on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane.


10:50 a.m.

Houston officials say fire personnel have responded to more than 5,500 calls for service in the city since Harvey began pounding the area this weekend.

Fire Chief Samuel Pena said during a news conference Monday that hundreds of emergency responders from across Texas and beyond are coming to Houston to help with rescue operations.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said at the same news conference that about 5,500 people have moved into city shelters. About half of them are at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Police Chief Art Acevedo added that police officers from several states will augment Houston police efforts, particularly in light of concerns with looting.

Acevedo said four people had been arrested for looting as of Monday morning.


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