HOUSTON — Harvey’s floodwaters started dropping across much of the Houston area and the sun came out Wednesday in a glimmer of hope for the stricken city, even as the storm doubled back toward land and pounded communities farther east, near the Texas-Louisiana line.
The scope of the devastation caused by the hurricane came into sharper focus, meanwhile, and the murky green floodwaters from the record-breaking, 4-foot deluge of rain began yielding up bodies as predicted.
Harvey’s death toll rose to at least 21 on Wednesday. Police confirmed Wednesday that six members of the same family were found dead in a van that went missing Sunday.
“Unfortunately, it seems that our worst thoughts are being realized,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said after the van was found in 10 feet of muddy water.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss recovery efforts, saying “the worst is not yet over for southeast Texas.” President Trump, speaking in Springfield, Missouri told victims that “we are here with you every single step of the way.”
While conditions in the nation’s fourth-largest city appeared to improve, authorities warned that the crisis in Houston and across the region is far from over. The storm, in fact, took a turn for the worse east of the city, close to the Louisiana line.
Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, struggled with rising floodwaters and worked to evacuate residents after Harvey completed a U-turn in the Gulf of Mexico and rolled ashore early Wednesday for the second time in six days. It hit southwestern Louisiana as a tropical storm with heavy rain and winds of 45 mph.
Forecasters predicted that a wobbling and weakening Harvey would be downgraded to a tropical depression late Wednesday or early Thursday and completely dissipate within three to four days.
But it still has lots of rain and potential damage to spread, with 4 to 8 inches forecast from the Louisiana-Texas line into Tennessee and Kentucky through Friday. Some spots may get as much as a foot, raising the risk of more flooding.
For much of the Houston area, forecasters said the rain is pretty much over.
“We have good news,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District. “The water levels are going down.”
Children’s International Food Project is raising funds to help those caught in the wake of hurricane Harvey. Visit: http://bit.ly/2x2M1BK to donate.