Beaumont, TX – Imelda has dumped nearly four feet of rain in some southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana communities, leading to widespread flooding that many said is reminiscent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 (videos below).
Initially a depression, Imelda swiftly grew into a short-lived tropical storm before it made landfall in Freeport, Texas, on Tuesday, AccuWeather reported.
It continued to creep inland throughout the day, dumping over 40 inches in some areas and causing widespread flash-flooding across at least 13 counties in Texas alone.
Imelda has claimed at least two lives so far.
A 19-year-old man was attempting to move his horse to safety when he was electrocuted during a lightening storm and drowned, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office told The Guardian.
In Houston, a man estimated to have been in his 40s or 50s tried to drive his van through eight-foot-deep floodwater and ultimately drowned, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told the paper.
Hundreds of residents throughout the area abandoned their vehicles as the rising floodwaters made roadways impassible, CNN reported.
Streets in heavy-hit Beaumont turned into rivers.
“If you are still in an area with standing water, seek higher ground and shelter in place,” Beaumont police urged residents, according to CNN. “Be patient and only call 911 for emergencies.”
First responders in Spring, Texas, had rescued nearly 100 people by early Thursday afternoon, the local fire department said in a Facebook post.
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said his office was focusing on rescuing citizens in Stowell and Winnie, where some people were forced to take refuge on their roofs to escape the floods, according to the Associated Press.
Over 100,000 gallons of wastewater spilled near Parker Road and Eastex Freeway in Houston on Thursday afternoon, leading officials to warn residents with private drinking wells that they must boil their water due to potential contamination, CNN reported.
“Harvey was bad and this is bad too,” Vidor, Texas resident Misty Walton told the news outlet. “People are not even done rebuilding here and it’s happening again.”
Another Vidor resident, Michael Stephens, was trapped at an apartment complex due to the flooding, CNN reported.
“The situation here is turning worse by the minute,” Stephens told the news outlet. “People have snakes in their apartments from the creek…[We] also have elderly disabled people stuck in their apartments.”
Nearly 700 flights at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston were canceled and 200 more were delayed, the Associated Press reported.
Outgoing flights resumed on Thursday afternoon.
By Thursday night, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office had responded to 992 calls in relation to the storm, CNN reported.
The calls included 323 stranded vehicles, 22 major crashes, and 407 high-water rescues.
“It’s been a long and challenging day,” Sheriff Gonzalez tweeted. “Couldn’t be prouder of my
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster for San Jacinto, Orange, Newton, Montgomery, Matagorda, Liberty, Jefferson, Jasper, Harris, Hardin, Galveston, Chambers and Brazoria counties, the Associated Press reported.
The remnants of the storm are expected to continue weakening as they push into Louisiana, Arkansas and northern Texas throughout Friday, but the rain will continue for the next couple of days, according to CNN.
The National Weather Service said that Imelda is the seventh wettest tropical cyclone in U.S. history, according to the Associated Press.