Houston, Texas was braced for a second round of thunderstorms on Friday morning, complicating what is likely to be a lengthy clean up after Tropical Depression Imelda dumped more than 60 centimeters of rain on the area on Thursday.
With many roads impassable, underpasses flooded and the main airport experiencing lengthy delays and cancellations, Houston’s mayor Sylvester Turner advised residents to “stay where you are”. Other officials echoed the sentiment by advising all those in affected areas to not take chances and stay safe.
Emergency services, meanwhile, were dealing with hundreds of calls from those stranded by Imelda, which is considered to be a serious and life-threatening storm.
A state of disaster has been declared in several districts of the city. Officials in one area, Harris County, said they had dealt with more than 900 weather-related calls, 22 major accidents and more than 300 abandoned cars and vans only hours after Imelda hit Houston. It proved to be a long and challenging day for first-responders.
Two deaths have been reported. One man, named as Hunter Morrison by local media, died while trying to save his horse during the floods. A message posted on social media said Morrison had been electrocuted. He was 19 years old. A second unnamed man died after becoming stranded in his van on a flooded road.
A long day of travel misery at the city’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which served more than 40m passengers last year, turned into a hard night for those camped out in the terminals.
Flight arrivals were expected to resume at 4am on Friday, but with most flights cancelled after the onset of severe thunder and lightning early on Thursday morning and more than half of flights showing as either delayed or cancelled early on Friday, passengers expect a weekend of hastily redrawn travel plans and long waits.
With power outages also being reported, schools and businesses were expected to remain closed on Friday.