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HOUSTON (AP) — Floodwaters kept rising Tuesday across much of Texas as storms dumped almost another foot of rain on the Houston area, stranding hundreds of motorists and inundating the famously congested highways that serve the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Meanwhile, the search went on for 30 people who were missing after flooding along the Blanco River in Central Texas, including a group of people who disappeared after a vacation home was swept down the river and slammed into a bridge.
Houston authorities recovered three more bodies from the floodwaters — two of them in the city and a third in a vehicle on Interstate 45. That brought to 11 the number of people killed by the holiday weekend storms in Oklahoma and Texas.
The water continued rising overnight as the area received about 11 more inches, much of it in a six-hour period.
Firefighters carried out more than 500 water rescues, mostly stranded motorists. And at least 2,500 vehicles were abandoned on the streets by drivers seeking higher ground, said Rick Flanagan, Houston’s emergency management coordinator.
“You cannot candy coat it. It’s absolutely massive,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said after touring the destruction.
The flooding closed several highways in Houston, and the ones that stayed open became a gridlocked mess.
Interstate 45 near downtown was backed up for miles on Tuesday morning, with a handful of motorists traveling the wrong way on the highway to retreat from high water.
The small cars weaved between massive 18-wheelers as drivers stared at them in disbelief. With no end to the backup in sight, some drivers got off the freeway, only to be held up again by water covering nearby access roads.
In the Heights neighborhood about 5 miles from downtown, groups of people roamed the streets after escaping their stalled cars, and police cruisers blocked some roads where the water had caused dangerous conditions.
Some motorists were stuck on Interstate 45 all night, sleeping in their cars until the backup was cleared about 8 a.m. (read more)
Father, please extend Your mercy and grace to the victims of these natural disasters. Comfort these persons and protect them.
Please continue to provide food, clothing, shelter and employment for them. Continue to touch the heart of our nation and world to give.
Holy Spirit, touch the hearts of local, state, and federal government officials to properly rebuild the levees, dams and drainage systems within the communities of our nation.
Protect the firefighters, public service workers and volunteers who are serving and let Your everlasting love be felt overwhelmingly by the people.
Lord, help the body of Christ to demonstrate Jesus’ love through acts of giving and compassion. Lord, we ask You to send Your laborers to share Your Gospel and to gather Your harvest.