Harvey downgraded to tropical depression; death toll rises above 30​

The National Weather Service downgraded Harvey to a tropical depression providing some hope for relief from torrential rain as rescues continue to take place and the death toll rises above 30.

The Latest on Tropical Depression Harvey (all times local):

3:55 a.m. (Thursday)

The Harris County Emergency Operations Center is reporting two explosions and black smoke coming from the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, according to a statement from the company.

Arkema said Harris County officials notified the firm about the explosions at 2 a.m.

A sheriff’s deputy was taken to the hospital was taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted about 4 a.m. Thursday. Nine other deputies drove themselves to the hospital as a precaution.

Crosby officials had been bracing for an explosion at the Arkema plant where floodwaters knocked out power and generators needed to keep volatile chemicals stored at the facility cool.

1:30 a.m. (Thursday)

Fort Bend County made evacuation orders mandatory early Thursday in neighborhoods near Buffalo Bayou. The county’s emergency management office warned of “imminent flooding” as the Barker Reservoir reached 101.1 feet in the early morning, with further increase likely.

All sections of Canyon Gate, Grand Lakes and Ricefield Village now must evacuate. Many sections of Cinco Ranch and Kelliwood must evacuate. In Willow Fork, Greens Section 1 must evacuate.

Residents are instructed to evacuate at daylight.

11:10 p.m. (Wednesday)

The Houston Fire Department will begin a comprehensive effort Thursday to rescue any survivors still stranded and recover bodies of those who died.

“We’ll be doing block-by-block, door-by-door search of streets we believe have had (3 feet or more of water) to make sure there are no people we’ve left behind,” Richard Mann, the department’s executive assistant chief, said at a Wednesday evening news conference. “This will be a one- to two-week-long process to make sure we address all those areas that have been (hit) hardest and most impacted.”

The search will focus on Kingwood in the city’s northeast, the Northshore area on the eastside and the Eldridge area on the westside.

10 p.m. (Wednesday)

Authorities say they have confirmed six more deaths from Harvey, bringing the toll to at least 31.

Harris County – which is home to flood-ravaged Houston – confirmed the additional deaths Wednesday night and said they still needed to do autopsies on another eight…

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