Watch Texas boat owners step up to save Houston residents stranded by Harvey

Houston residents step up
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/CNN)

Houston, America's fourth-largest city, is mostly flat and typically drained by a series of bayous, and when those fill up, roads. With the remnants of Hurricane Harvey hovering over Houston, dumping up to 26 inches of rain since Friday and another 15 to 25 inches expected before next Friday, the city is experiencing unprecedented and catastrophic flooding; the bayous are overflowing their banks, major highways and minor roads are deep underwater, and thousands of people are stuck in their houses as the water rises. Late Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers said it will have to release water from bulging reservoirs into Buffalo Bayou:

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Emergency management agencies put out the call on Sunday for anyone with a shallow-water boat to help the rescue effort, and people responded.

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"This is really typical of what we see with our fellow neighbors," Gov. Greg Abbott (R) told CNN on Sunday night. "They're not going to wait for some government official to come by, they're just going to take matters into their own hands and do what they can to help their neighbor."

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CNN's Ed Lavandera and a camera crew hitched a ride with Austin Seth, one of the Texans who heeded the call from local law enforcement:

Seth said he'd already picked about a dozen stranded people, and Lavandera and his camera crew got involved in a last-minute rescue of a woman and her elderly parents.

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This is what Dickinson looked like on Sunday afternoon. The water is still rising.

The Red Cross estimates that 30,000 people will be in shelters by Monday. "We will be flooded well past Labor Day," Red Cross disaster response official Brad Kieserman tells NPR. "The area that's going to be flooding is about the size of Lake Michigan. Hurricane Harvey has effectively turned South and Central Texas into a lake the size of Michigan. And I don't think that's an exaggeration."

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