“Catastrophic” flooding in the US state of Texas is only expected to worsen in coming days as waters rise following a storm of historic proportions.
A record 30in of rain (75cm) has already fallen on the city of Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, turning roads into rivers.
But forecasters say that number could nearly double later this week.
On Monday President Donald Trump also approved an emergency declaration for neighbouring Louisiana.
Harvey made landfall as a category-four hurricane late on Friday, bringing flooding described by officials as “unprecedented”. It was later downgraded to a tropical storm.
Up to 2,000 people have been rescued in and around Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, where about 6.6m people live in the metropolitan area.The area is expected to have received a year’s rainfall within a week. Five people are reported dead. Helicopters have plucked victims from rooftops.
Governor Greg Abbott has activated the entire Texas National Guard – some 12,000 so-called “civilian soldiers” – to assist national forces in search and rescue operations.Officials say 30,000 people are expected to be housed in emergency shelters.
“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding will continue across south-eastern Texas,” theNational Hurricane Center said on Monday.
“Additional rainfall accumulations of 15 to 25 inches are expected”.Meanwhile, army engineers have begun releasing water from two dams controlling water flowing along a major river into the heart of Houston.
Officials said they were opening the Addicks and Barker dams to stop water spilling into neighbouring communities, but that this could cause further damage down the Buffalo Bayou.The National Weather Service (NWS) said the worst of floods were expected on Wednesday and Thursday, Reuters reports, although there is still uncertainty about the storm’s path.
Thousands of homes are without electricity.
Many schools are closed – as are Houston’s two main airports, with runways completely floodedAn inundated care home in Dickinson, about 30 miles (50 km) south east of the city, has now been evacuated by helicopter after an image ofseveral elderly women sitting in a lounge in waist-deep water went viral on social media.
The Texas Gulf Coast is a key centre of the US oil and gas industry, and some of the largest refineries in the country have halted operations