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Evacuations ordered amid water levels rivaling historic Hurricane Harvey floods: 'This is a life-threatening situation'

"Texans are now bracing for a second flooding event in less than a week."

"Texans are now bracing for a second flooding event in less than a week."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

After rounds of heavy rainfall, severe floods hit Texas, with water level rises rivaling those seen during Hurricane Harvey.

What's happening?

At the beginning of May, officials issued an evacuation order to communities along the east fork of the San Jacinto River, between FM Road 1485 and Lake Houston, with Harris County Executive Judge Lina Hidalgo warning that flooding could extend half a mile inland.

"This is a life-threatening situation," Hidalgo said in a report published May 4. 

On May 15, CNN reported that the Weather Prediction Center called the storms a "nightmare scenario" for the Gulf Coast. The flood risk is ongoing. 

Fox Weather noted that multiple communities in East Texas faced powerful floods following several inches of rainfall that caused already saturated rivers and reservoirs to swell.

Around Houston, as reported by The Guardian on May 5, more than 400 people were rescued from roads and their homes — including some who had escaped to their rooftops. 

On May 9, AccuWeather reported that Texans were bracing for a second flooding event in less than a week. 

Between 10 and 20 inches of rain also fell in northeastern Texas in a matter of days, reaching 150-300% of the historic average. 

The outlet noted an area of low pressure was expected to form over central Texas before traveling east, where 2-4 inches of rain could fall in regions that were already the worst hit.

With the ground still sodden in areas, a new onslaught of rain will be difficult to absorb, adding to the runoff flowing into rivers and streams.

Why is this flooding and heavy rainfall in Texas concerning?

The floods in Texas turned deadly, including when floodwaters claimed the life of a 4-year-old boy, according to a report by CNN on May 7. 

The danger to human life is high. Texans will remember the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when, out of 107 fatalities nationwide, 103 happened in Texas.

A shocking 80% of those deaths were caused by drowning, according to one study. Even for those who survive, floodwater poses multiple health risks

If the water sweeps up raw sewage, animal waste, or pesticides, this contamination could cause bacterial infections, rashes, and sore throats. 

Texas is likely to see more life-threatening flood events, as it increasingly bears the brunt of changing global temperatures that supercharge extreme weather events and lead to their occurring more frequently. 

According to Texas 2036, the state will likely experience 30-50% more urban flooding by 2036, compared with 1950-99.

What's being done about flooding in Texas?

Even though Texas is one of the states most vulnerable to the effects of rising global temperatures, one report said it was among the worst prepared.

But there are signs that it is starting to take action. Last year, officials approved a preliminary design for an enormous barrier along the Gulf Coast, which could help protect thousands of residents from storm surges.

A law enacted in 2022 also requires Texas landlords to tell tenants if their property is in a 100-year floodplain.

In Austin, the city has collaborated with partners on a Resilience Hub Network, which helps communities to build emergency kits and access resources during floods.

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