Cars drive on a flooded street in Sargent, Texas, as seen in this aerial photo Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Sargent received 22 inches of rain since tropical storm Imelda hit the area on Tuesday, according to Matagorda County Constable Bill Orton. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Imelda's deluge won't let up over Texas and Louisiana

September 19, 2019 - 6:09 am

HOUSTON (AP) — Rain from Tropical Depression Imelda was still deluging parts of Texas and Louisiana on Thursday. Forecasters warned of life-threatening flash floods as an additional five to 10 inches falls through Friday, and predicted even "25 to 35 inches" in some places as the system moves slowly over the area.

Glenn LaMont, deputy emergency management coordinator in Brazoria County, south of Houston along the Gulf Coast, said he had seen no reports of flooded homes or people stranded despite heavy rainfall as of late Wednesday, but cautioned: "It's too early to breathe a sigh of relief."

Most of the heaviest showers had moved to the east of Houston, into Beaumont, Texas, and southwestern Louisiana, by Wednesday evening, but the storm's remnants spawned several weak tornadoes in the Baytown area, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Houston, damaging trees, barns and sheds and causing minor damage to some homes and vehicles.

Forecasters said the Houston area could still face some heavy rainfall on Thursday, even as the system's center shifted to about 110 miles (180 kilometers) north of the city, moving north-northwest at 5 mph (7 kph).

Parts of East Texas could get up to 10 inches (254 millimeters) of rain through Thursday morning as the remnants of Imelda continue moving north and away from Houston, according to the National Weather Service.

Coastal counties, including Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston, got the most rainfall so far. Some parts of the Houston area had received nearly 8 inches (203 millimeters) of rain, while the city of Galveston, which had street flooding, had received nearly 9 inches (229 millimeters), according to preliminary rainfall totals released Wednesday afternoon by the National Weather Service.

Sargent, a town of about 2,700 residents in Matagorda County, had received nearly 20 inches (508 millimeters) of rain since Tuesday.

Karen Romero, who lives with her husband in Sargent, said this was the most rain she has had in her neighborhood in her nine years living there.

"The rain (Tuesday) night was just massive sheets of rain and lightning storms," said Romero, 57.

She said her home, located along a creek, was not in danger of flooding as it sits on stilts, like many others nearby.

In the Houston area, the rainfall flooded some roadways, stranding drivers, and caused several creeks and bayous to rise to high levels.

Many schools in the Houston and Galveston area canceled classes Wednesday. However, the Houston school district, the state's largest, remained open. At least one school district — Galveston — said it was also canceling classes on Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center said Imelda, weakened after a tropical depression after making landfall Tuesday near Freeport, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph).

The weather service said Imelda is the first named storm to impact the Houston area since Hurricane Harvey dumped nearly 50 inches (130 centimeters) of rain on parts of the flood-prone city in August 2017, flooding more than 150,000 homes in the Houston area and causing an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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