Houston saw clear skies on Wednesday as water levels crested and floodwaters began to slowly recede, but Harvey, downgraded to a tropical depression late Wednesday, continued to bring new flooding to the east of Houston and into Louisiana. The deaths attributed to Harvey reached at least 38, and search-and-rescue teams expect to find more bodies as the waters recede. Heartbreaking stories are emerging from Houston — like a young girl who survived floodwaters by clinging to her mother, who did not survive, and the three brothers and two friends whose boat got swept toward downed power lines during their third rescue outing, with two of them dead and two missing.
In nearby Crosby, Texas, a flooded chemical plant owned by French company Arkema is expected to explode, prompting an evacuation of a 1.5-mile radius. About 100 miles east of Houston, small cities like Port Arthur and Beaumont, and towns like Orange and Newton, were largely underwater, with bowling alleys becoming refuge points and rescue crews trying to find dry shelters for displaced residents. "Our whole city is underwater right now," Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said on Facebook. Firefighters from as far away as Florida stepped in to help.
Flooding is also being reported in Louisiana, where Harvey is expected to drop up to 10 inches of rain before moving northward, after dumping record amounts of rain on Texas. More than 300 towns and cities in Texas, with a combined 11 million people, were hit by Harvey, and many of them are still awaiting help. "There are a lot of places that are not accessible by car or truck or boat, and we need to get to the survivors to get them critical aid," said FEMA spokeswoman Deanna Fraser. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has deployed 24,000 National Guard troops, including 10,000 from out of state, to assist in recovery and security efforts.