Harvey: Thousands waiting for rescue, estimated 30,000 – 40,000 home destroyed in Houston area

Thousands of people likely remain stranded and an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 homes have been destroyed in the Houston area as Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, continues to batter the Gulf Coast region with torrential rains, flooding and strong winds, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett told ABC News.

Harvey made its third landfall just west of Cameron, Louisiana, at 4 a.m. CT Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service. As of 7 a.m. CT, the slow-moving storm had picked up some speed moving north and its center was about 25 miles away from Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Ahead of that, it battered the Port Arthur area in southeast Texas, dumping as much as 2 feet of rain in some parts.

SLIDESHOW: Slideshow: Hurricane Harvey devastates Gulf Coast

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“We have people who are on the second flood of their homes; they’re riding it out and they’re waiting for the waters to go down,” Emmett said today in an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.”

“We’ve got probably 30-40,000 homes that have been destroyed,” Emmett added.

Although the storm has begun to shift the brunt of its impact to western Louisiana, Emmett said Texas’ Harris County must now help residents return to their homes.

“The biggest challenge is going to get people back in their homes,” he said. “We’ve got to get those people back into their normal lives as soon as possible.”

Harvey, which first came ashore last Friday in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, dumped more than 51 inches of rain on some parts of the state, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service. The storm is responsible for at least 11 deaths, all in Texas, over the past four days.

The tropical storm is expected to weaken and continue moving to the north and east across the Lower Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley through Thursday. But the National Weather Service said Harvey still has the potential to cause “life-threatening flooding.”

“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues in southeastern Texas and portions of southwestern Louisiana,” the National Weather Service warned in its advisory Wednesday morning. “Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage areas and low-lying spots.”

The situation became serious in eastern Texas in the early hours of Wednesday. The National Weather…

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