Floodwaters drop across much of Houston; danger not over

Harvey’s floodwaters started dropping across much of the Houston area and the sun peeked through thinning clouds Wednesday in the first glimmer of hope in days for the besieged city. But the crisis was far from over, and the storm began to give up more of its dead.

The number of confirmed deaths rose to at least 22 after authorities found the submerged van in which six members of a Houston family, including four children, were believed to have died when their vehicle was swept off a bridge. The bodies of at least two adults were spotted inside in the murky water, authorities said.

“Unfortunately, it seems that our worst thoughts are being realized,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

While conditions in Houston appeared to improve, the disaster took a turn for the worse along the Texas-Louisiana state line.

The Texas communities of Beaumont and Port Arthur struggled with rising floodwaters and worked to evacuate residents after Harvey rolled ashore early Wednesday for the second time in six days, hitting southwestern Louisiana as a tropical storm with winds of 45 mph and heavy rain.

For much of the rest of the Houston area, forecasters said the rain is pretty much over and the water is already back within its channels in some places.

“We have good news,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District. “The water levels are going down. And that’s for the first time in several days.”

Also, the water in two reservoirs that protect downtown Houston from flooding was likely to crest Wednesday at levels slightly below those that were forecast, officials said.

Nevertheless, many thousands of homes in and around the nation’s fourth-largest city were still swamped and could stay that way for days or longer. Some Houston-area neighborhoods were still in danger of more flooding from a levee breach. And officials said 911 call centers in the Houston area were still getting more than 1,000 calls an hour from people seeking help.

Authorities expect the death toll to rise as the waters recede and they are able to take full stock of the destruction wrought by the hurricane.

The dead include a man who tried to swim across a flooded roadway, a former football and track coach in suburban Houston and a woman who died after she and her young daughter were swept into a rain-swollen drainage canal in Beaumont. The child was rescued clinging to her dead mother, authorities said.

Harvey itself was “spinning down” and expected…

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