The remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey drenched northern Louisiana on Thursday as it moved inland, leaving rescuers to search homes around Houston and in the hard-hit southeastern Texas coast for more survivors or victims.
The storm killed at least 35 people and the death toll was rising as bodies were found in receding waters. Some 32,000 people were forced into shelters around the U.S. energy hub of Houston since Harvey came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in a half-century.
Storm-related power outages prompted two explosions at a flood-hit Arkema SA chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Houston, with one sheriff’s deputy sent to the hospital after inhaling toxic chemicals.
|Residents wade with their belongings through flood waters brought by Tropical Storm Harvey in Northwest Houston. Photo: NYTimes
“The plume is incredibly dangerous,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said at a news briefing.
A 1.5-mile (2.4 km) radius around the plant had been evacuated and the company urged people to stay away from the area, warning further blasts were likely.
By Thursday, Harvey was downgraded to a tropical depression, located about 15 miles (24 km) south of Monroe, Louisiana. The storm’s rains wrought the most damage along the Gulf Coast and the National Weather Service warned as much as 10 inches (25.4 cm) could fall in Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Rivers and reservoirs in Texas remained at or near flood level, with officials warning that high water would remain a danger in the region for the next few days.
Federal officials also had already rescued 10,000 people from flooded homes and would continue to search, Brock said.
The Houston Fire Department will begin a block-by-block effort on Thursday to rescue stranded survivors and recover bodies, Assistant Fire Chief Richard Mann told reporters.