Hurricane Harvey: Hundreds of rescues, thousands of 911 calls swamp Houston area

Posted on: August 27th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Olson/Getty Images(HOUSTON) — Hurricane Harvey’s historic torrential rains left thousands of people stranded in the Houston area on Sunday while rescuers — public officials, as well as neighbors and good Samaritans — took to the air and water in an attempt to pluck them to safety.

An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 water rescues have taken place in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, as workers continue to locate survivors of the deadly storm, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Among the rescued was a family of seven, who were interviewed by ABC Houston station KTRK-TV after being saved from the attic of their home. The father, holding an infant in his hands, told the station that his home was completely destroyed in the flooding.

“Chaos — back to back — non-stop rain,” the father told KTRK-TV, describing his home as a “total loss” and asking not to named.

Hurricane Harvey dumped an estimated billions of gallons of rainwater this weekend, leaving residents stranded throughout the southeastern part of the lone star state. At least three people have died.

About 56,000 911 calls have been made in the wake of the weekend storm, officials said.

Chief T and I in water with @HCSOTexas team assisting with rescue. He'd been stuck in 8' water since 2am. He was relieved.

— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) August 27, 2017

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted video of himself and his team assisting a man he said had been stuck in water since the early morning.

“He was relieved,” Gonzalez wrote.

#BREAKINGNEWS: #Texas #NationalGuard and TexasTaskForces have rescued an additional 10 people via hoist on Blackhawks today. #Harvey

— Texas Military Dept (@TXMilitary) August 27, 2017

The Texas Military Department tweeted that Blackhawk helicopters were employed in rescuing at least 10 people.

Frustration builds over evacuation plans

Frustration began to build in the hours after the storm came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane, with what some said were conflicting messages about evacuation and questions about resources and plans for evacuees.

Multiple evacuees told ABC News on Sunday that they had been waiting for hours for the promises of buses to take them to some unknown location but the vehicles never arrived.

Some evacuees were stranded on the side of a highway, others rescued by boats and brought to higher ground.

Some evacuees were shellshocked, in soaking wet clothes and without shoes, many holding equally shivering pets, as they awaited shelter, food and water.

“There’s no coordination,” a shocked and frustrated evacuee told ABC News. “Where are these people supposed to go?”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said this evening the flooding was “historic” and “unprecedented,” as he explained that evacuation logistics “would’ve been crazy” and he has no regrets about not ordering people to leave.

“Can you imagine the nightmare it would be with millions of people coming back into the city where many of the communities are underwater? Streets are not passable,” he said. “The decision that we made was a smart one. It was in the best interest of Houstonians. It was the right decision in terms of their safety and always we must put the interest of the city of Houston and Houstonians first.”

“Absolutely no regrets,” he said.

‘It’s never gotten this bad before’

Producer Joe Gleason of KTRK-TV showed viewers the damage done to his home after the persistent flooding that has hit the region, with his living room, kitchen and dining room completely submerged in water.

“It’s never gotten this bad before,” Gleason told the station, comparing the damage to previous floods in the area.

Gleason and his family are hiding out upstairs to avoid the flooded downstairs area of their home, which appeared completely unlivable in video footage he provided to the station.

We're thinking of you, @joeagleason. | #ABC13 photographer shows us his flooded home near Buffalo Bayou

— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) August 27, 2017

Other images recorded in the region on Sunday show water reaching freeway signs and traffic lights. Water reached the windows of a tractor-trailer that was stuck in rising flood waters at an intersection that was utterly submerged.

Harvey slams Texas

Some police departments are seeking help from local residents in their rescue efforts.

The League City Police Department, located about 30 miles south of Houston, posted on social media that it was looking for boats to jump in and help save lives.

“We are looking for people with flat bottom or low water boats to assist with rescue and evacuation. Please send LCPD a Facebook message with name, phone number, location of boat, length and style of boat if you can be mobile with your boat and are experienced in operation of the boat,” League City police posted on Facebook.

“This information will be passed on to the personnel coordinating the rescue effort, and you can be expecting a call from them if we can utilize your assistance. Thank you very much in advance for your willingness to help,” they concluded.

Meanwhile, residents in the region are leaving their possessions behind in an effort to survive the ordeal.

Baby, mom, grandma just rescued by @houstonpolice. They are in good spirits–for having just experienced such a harrowing morning. #abc13

— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 27, 2017

A grandmother and a mother with her baby, rescued by the Houston Police Department, were filmed by KTRK-TV carrying only a small bag and a blanket with them.

Asked whether the items represented all of their possessions, the grandmother, who did not give her name, answered back, “for right now.”

Gleason, for his part, told the station that his priorities during the flood are to protect “kids and pets” first.

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