HOUSTON (AP) – Rescuers in Texas continue to search for people left behind in Harvey’s floodwaters as the downgraded storm heads to other states to dump more rain and the death toll rises to near 40. Here are some things happening on the ground:
Harvey is expected to dump heavy rain on parts of Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky through Friday. The forecast calls for totals ranging from 4 to 8 inches. Some places could possibly be hit with up to a foot of rain.
Some Harvey victims died trying to save other people, while others lost their lives doing their best to survive the storm. They range from 6 years old to 89.
More than 200 firefighters, police officers and search-and-rescue team members started going block by block Thursday in Houston looking for more victims – alive or dead. “We don’t think we’re going to find any humans, but we’re prepared if we do,” said District Chief James Pennington of the Houston Fire Department.
The searches are expected to take up to two weeks. The death toll, now at 39, is expected to rise.
Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences spokeswoman Tricia Bentley said Thursday night that the office has confirmed seven more storm-related deaths.
Harris County is home to Houston and has so far accounted for 25 deaths from the storm.
The Houston morgue is near its 200-body capacity and officials have asked for a refrigerated tractor-trailer to store extra bodies. Some of the bodies are storm-related; others are not. They have accumulated as floodwaters essentially closed down funeral homes and other businesses.
Questions have come up about the adequacy of industry preparations after explosions at a Texas chemical plant crippled by Harvey flooding. The owners of the plant in Crosby, Texas, said Thursday that further explosions could occur there as unstable chemicals used in such products as plastics and paint warm up and degrade following power and refrigeration failures.
Meanwhile, spills and air pollution releases linked to toppled fuel storage tanks, shutdown refineries and at least one broken pipeline have been reported by companies . Some 230 chemical plants, 33 oil refineries and hundreds of miles of pipelines transporting hazardous materials are located in the six Houston-area counties, information from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Sierra Club show.
IMMIGRANTS AND DEPORTATION FEARS
Immigration advocates are using social media and shelter visits to assure Harvey evacuees living in the U.S. illegally that they won’t be targeted for deportation. The advocates and others on the ground said immigrants should put personal safety above deportation fears.
“The agents and the assets that are here in Houston as part of the recovery effort are absolutely 100 percent only here for rescue and safety,” said John Morris, the Border Patrol’s chief of staff in South Texas. “There is no enforcement activity being undertaken while we’re doing this safety mission.”
MUSLIMS HELPING EVACUEES
Muslims in Houston have opened community centers to people needing shelter from Harvey and volunteered to serve food and deliver donations. Some have rescued their neighbors in the flooding.
The efforts from Houston’s Muslim community – an estimated 200,000 people – continue even as mosques welcome congregants for Eid al-Adha, also known as the festival of sacrifice and one of Islam’s holiest days.
M.J. Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, which operates the Champions mosque and several others that are providing shelter, said evacuees won’t be displaced even if people it hosts during the festival’s Friday morning prayer have to pray in the parking lot.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)