Houston Struggling to Recover

A long-duration, catastrophic flood event is underway in the Greater Houston area in Texas. As of the morning of Aug. 28, some areas had received more than 76 cm (30 inches) since the storm began, and another 51-76 cm (20-30) inches of precipitation is possible by the time the storm passes. Some waterways have risen to, or exceeded, 500-year flood levels, and record flooding has occurred in many locations. Water levels in rivers, creeks, and bayous throughout the region might not crest until Aug. 30; areal flooding will continue for days.

The city’s drainage system is overwhelmed, some dams have been overtopped, and Buffalo Bayou has flooded portions of downtown Houston. Authorities have begun controlled releases of excess water from reservoirs to reduce their potential to burst. Rapidly rising water has also forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes or move to elevated locations in multiple parts of the metropolitan area. Police have urged stranded people to climb onto roofs rather than move to attics. Flooding has forced the closure of numerous roads throughout Greater Houston, including multiple locations along I-10, I-45, I-69, I-610, Beltway 8, the Hardy Toll Road, and the Sam Houston Tollway.

Emergency responders have conducted thousands of rescues so far, and are generally overwhelmed. Response times will be delayed in even the best circumstances. Emergency staging areas have been established throughout the city, but first responders have had difficulty reaching some of these sites due to high water and streets blocked by stranded vehicles. Helicopter and boat rescues generally do not take place during darkness hours, to reduce the danger from submerged hazards. The US Coast Guard is assisting with water rescues, and has provided several hotlines to call for those in distress.

As of Noon today, a number of airports remained closed in Texas due to the effects of Tropical Storm Harvey. Authorities now expect Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to remain closed until Aug. 31. Corpus Christi International Airport (CRP) reopened to commercial flights earlier this morning.

Significant flight disruptions are continuing at other regional airports that handle a high volume of flights from the Houston area (IAH, HOU). Significant airline network disruptions are expected to persist through at least Aug. 31.

Travelers are advised to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport. 

If you had a flight cancelled during this event, a number of airlines have waived change fees and are offering flexible rebooking policies for these flights. You may check the following links to see the rebooking requirements for flights operated by American Airlines (AA), British Airways (BA), Delta Air Lines (DL), Frontier (F9), JetBlue (B6), Southwest (WN), Spirit (NK), and United Airlines (UA).

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