Even as the sun began to show in Houston on Wednesday, signaling a small measure of hope after days of devastating rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey, a region east of the city faced disaster anew after it was pummeled by rain overnight.
Residents of cities in Jefferson County, Tex., about 100 miles east of Houston, were desperate for help Wednesday morning after rain there caused floodwaters to rise precipitously and lightning made things particularly difficult for those responding to the storm. Many, finding emergency services unresponsive, sought help on social media, where their calls were amplified by digital onlookers seeking to help from afar.
Port Arthur’s mayor, Derrick Freeman, said on Facebook early Wednesday morning that rescue teams were contending with fires while trying to get residents to safety.
“Our whole city is underwater right now,” he wrote, in a message of encouragement that nonetheless communicated the distress the city was facing.
The mayor of Beaumont, Becky Ames, told NBC that the flooding was like nothing she had ever seen before.
“Every single body of water around us is at capacity and overflowing and the rain is still coming down,” she said.
About 254,000 people live in Jefferson County, which Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Wednesday had been “slammed with 20 inches of rainfall” overnight.
As news reports teemed with images from Port Arthur showing flooded homes and shelters, the city’s name began to trend on Twitter early Wednesday morning as dozens of residents posted their addresses and conditions, saying that they were trapped in their houses with children and older people in dire…