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Flood watch in Houston as heavy rain prompts evacuations in Texas

More than half a foot of rain fell in East Texas on Thursday morning, raising the risk of flooding and increasing flooding in an area where up to a foot of rain had already fallen on Sunday. More heavy rains were on the way.

Local news outlets reported that images from East Texas showed widespread flooding on roads and stranded cars. A mandatory evacuation order issued in Polk County was still in effect Thursday.

The worst wasn't over yet.

Forecasters said more rain could fall Thursday afternoon and evening and into Friday morning, 2 to 3 inches per hour. The additional heavy rainfall could lead to further flooding.

A flood warning was in effect for southeast Texas. according to the National Weather Service Houston office.

About 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) of rain fell in the past 24 hours in Livingston, which is in Polk County and northeast of Houston, Hayley Adams, a meteorologist with the weather service in Houston, said Thursday.

“We have received multiple reports of numerous flooded roads in this area and multiple flood rescue operations,” she said. “Roads are impassable.”

Ms Adams said the area was expected to see another 2 to 4 inches of rainfall from Thursday evening into Friday morning.

The storm came days after an earlier round of rain and flooding led authorities in Polk County, home to about 50,000 people, to issue a mandatory evacuation order on Monday.

“Roads are flooding faster than we can report,” the Polk County Office of Emergency Management said in a Facebook post Thursday. “Stay home if you can.”

In Harris County, which includes Houston, Judge Lina Hidalgo on Tuesday called for voluntary evacuations in certain areas near the San Jacinto River. Judge Hidalgo said in one Statement released on social media on Thursday that the worst in the area appeared to be over and there were no reports of injuries. She added that crews rescued eight people and 30 animals from flood-hit areas.

Officials in Montgomery County, north of Houston, also issued a voluntary evacuation order.

In a post on the Polk County Office of Emergency Management's Facebook page, officials warned that the Trinity River Authority plans to increase flows from Lake Livingston Dam into the area, which could worsen flooding and pose a threat to infrastructure .

The Houston Office of Emergency Management said Thursday that the city's fire, police and public works departments had flood vehicles ready for the communities of Kingwood and North Houston, which were also under a flood watch.

Houston police said they were closing Lake Houston due to expected heavy rains.

According to poweroutage.us, nearly 40,000 Texas customers were without power in the Houston area as of Thursday afternoon.

Aerial drone footage shared on social media by the Polk County Office of Emergency Management showed homes and businesses swallowed by muddy floodwaters and trucks and cars washed away.

“All roads in Polk County are at risk,” the agency said Thursday morning. The Texas Department of Transportation also closed a bridge over the Trinity River.

Offices and schools in the district were closed on Thursday. At least one shelter was open at a gym in Livingston.

The heavy rain could cause street flooding and cause streams and rivers to rise, the agency said.

“Do not drive through flooded roads,” the weather service said.

Anna Harden

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