The Latest: Report: 6 feared dead in Houston; van swept away

Wilford Martinez, Richard Wagner
Wilford Martinez, right, is rescued from his flooded car by Harris County Sheriff's Department Richard Wagner along Interstate 610 in floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on Tropical Storm Harvey (all times local):

2:10 p.m.

A television station is reporting that six family members are believed to have drowned in Houston when their van was swept away by floodwaters.

The KHOU-TV report was attributed to three family members the station didn’t identify. No bodies have been recovered.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo tells The Associated Press he has no information about the KHOU report but added that he’s “really worried about how many bodies we’re going to find” from Harvey’s devastating flooding.

According to the station, four children — the youngest, a 6-year-old girl — and their grandparents are feared dead after the van hit high floods Sunday afternoon when crossing a bridge in Greens Bayou.

The driver of the vehicle, the children’s great-uncle, reportedly escaped before the van was submerged and grabbed onto a tree limb as the van sunk. He told the children inside to try to escape through the back door, but they were unable to get out.

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2 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush says he and former first lady Laura Bush are confident that communities hit by Harvey “will recover and thrive.”

Bush, who lives in Dallas, released a statement Monday that he and his wife are “proud of the people of Texas for showing the resilience and compassion of our state.” He says they’re “moved by the heroic work of the first responders and volunteers who are putting themselves at risk to save others.”

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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1:45 p.m.

Texas regulators say a 150,000-barrel (6.3 million gallon) fuel storage tank spilled an unspecified amount of gasoline east of Houston after tilting over due to large volumes of rain from Harvey.

The spill occurred at Kinder Morgan’s Pasadena Terminal on Saturday. Ramona Nye with the Texas Railroad Commission says the fuel was captured by a containment dike at the facility and fire-retardant foam was sprayed over it to prevent an ignition. Company representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

In a second incident, a fiberglass storage tank operated by Karbuhn Oil Company burst into fire after being hit by lightning early Sunday morning. Nye says an estimated 5 barrels (210 gallons) of oil was released.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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1:35 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Harvey is drifting “erratically” back toward the Gulf Coast after having moved inland since making landfall late Friday.

An advisory Monday afternoon from the center says life-threatening flooding continues for Houston and the broader southeastern Texas region.

Harvey has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph). The center says it may slowly intensify as it moves closer to the coast.

Harvey is forecast to turn back toward the northeast at some point Tuesday.

An additional 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rainfall is forecast through Friday and the center says other threats include tornadoes and a coastal storm surge of 1 to 3 feet (0.3 meter to 0.91 meter) moving inland from the coast.

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1:10 p.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rates the two 70-year-old dams that protect Houston as among a handful of “extremely high risk” dams in the U.S.

Concerns include the way the two structures were built in the 1940s, and the threat to the people and property of the nation’s 4th-biggest city if they were to fail.

The Corps said Monday it was starting to release water from the two dams, called Addicks and Barker. The move would worsen flooding in some neighborhoods, but was necessary to prevent bigger, uncontrolled flows later, the Corps said in a statement.

The Houston dams are older than even the already high average age — 56 years — of dams in the United States. The Corps has acknowledged a long history of seepage through the dams. A $75 million fix to the two dams’ floodgates is slated for completion in 2019.

The Corps ‘”was confident that the structures continue to perform as they were designed to do,” it said in Monday’s statement.

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12:40 p.m.

Officials say Houston’s 911 system has received and processed 75,000 calls since Harvey inundated many parts of the city.

That includes nearly 20,000 calls just since 10 p.m. Sunday.

Joe Laud is the administration manager for the Houston Emergency Center. He said Monday that 911 operators have been able to reduce the backlog of calls they have, going from 120 to 250 calls in their queue to 10 to 15 calls.

He says that on average, the system usually get 8,000 or 9,000 calls per day.

Laud says officials have also initiated a voice activated system that lets callers know that the 911 system has received their call and that they should stay on the phone until someone comes on the line. Laud says some people were apparently hanging up because they didn’t think their call would be answered.

Harvey made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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12:20 p.m.

The federal government has enough disaster aid money to deal with the immediate aftermath of Harvey — for now.

But a multibillion dollar aid package is a sure bet to be added to an already packed agenda facing lawmakers when they return to Washington next week.

Top Capitol Hill aides say they have assurances from the Trump administration that the $3 billion balance in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster fund is enough to handle immediate needs, such as debris removal and temporary shelter for thousands of Texas residents displaced from their homes.

An infusion of more FEMA money will be needed soon, however, given the magnitude of the storm. It’s seen as a likely add-on to a temporary government-wide funding bill to prevent a shutdown in October.

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12:10 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz says he won’t second-guess the decision not to ask Houston residents to evacuate before Harvey hit the city with heavy rain and wind.

The Texas Republican on Monday toured the downtown convention center housing thousands of evacuees. He says there will be “plenty of time after this disaster to look back in hindsight and see what lessons could be learned.”

Cruz said that the government “will do what is necessary to rebuild,” though he didn’t commit to voting for potential legislation to provide funding for the recovery.

Cruz wouldn’t comment on criticism from U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, that he didn’t vote for an aid package for Superstorm Sandy.

Cruz said, “This is not a time for politics.”

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12 p.m.

Houston’s mayor says city officials are keeping watch on the ongoing release of water from two flood-control reservoirs in the Houston area to see if it might cause additional flooding in some neighborhoods.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the controlled release into Buffalo Bayou is being done to relief pressure on the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, which have been overwhelmed by flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey. The reservoirs help prevent flooding in downtown Houston and other urban areas to the east.

The release of water is expected to flood some neighborhoods near the reservoirs. And officials are worried that other homes in areas near Buffalo Bayou, which had gone out of its banks, could be impacted as well.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he’s asking the Harris County Flood Control District for more information on how much higher Buffalo Bayou could rise and whether that could result in more homes in west Houston being flooded.

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11:55 a.m.

Officials in Houston are working to pump out water from one of its water treatment plants, which has been submerged by rainfall from Harvey.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday that the plant, in the northeast part of the city, remains operational.

Turner said most of the Houston water supply will be OK. But if the plant drops to below 20 percent capacity, the city might be forced to issue a notice to residents to boil their water.

Officials say because the plant is under water, it is difficult for workers to get equipment to the site and to do any adjustments and maintenance.

Harvey made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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11:40 a.m.

Water in a Houston-area neighborhood along a creek that’s overflowing has reached the roofline of single-story homes.

People can be heard yelling for help from inside homes in the Cypress Forest Estates subdivision in northern Harris County also can be heard as a steady procession of rescue boats head into the area.

One man, Joe Garcia, wearing a blue jacket and a New York Mets cap, was carrying his German Shepherd, Heidi, in chest-deep water before he was picked up by a boat. Garcia said he floated out a tub of his belongings, then went back in to get his dog.

The current is swift and the waters have continued to rise Monday.

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11:15 a.m.

Texas’ governor is activating the entire Texas National Guard for search and rescue efforts following Hurricane Harvey, bringing the total deployment to roughly 12,000.

Gov. Gregg Abbott said Monday that it’s “imperative we do everything possible” to protect lives. About 3,000 guard members had already been mobilized along the Texas coast.

Abbott says Texas is now activating others who are physically able and not currently deployed elsewhere.

Houston officials say they have rescued more than 2,000 people from flooding in the city. Harvey made landfall on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane.

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10:50 a.m.

Houston officials say fire personnel have responded to more than 5,500 calls for service in the city since Harvey began pounding the area this weekend.

Fire Chief Samuel Pena said during a news conference Monday that hundreds of emergency responders from across Texas and beyond are coming to Houston to help with rescue operations.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said at the same news conference that about 5,500 people have moved into city shelters. About half of them are at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Police Chief Art Acevedo added that police officers from several states will augment Houston police efforts, particularly in light of concerns with looting.

Acevedo said four people had been arrested for looting as of Monday morning.

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10:40 a.m.

Former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush are expressing their support for Texas residents affected by Harvey.

The Bushes live in Houston but also have a home in Maine, which is where they’re staying.

In a statement issued Monday, they say they’re praying for people in Texas. They praised people who are helping their neighbors, as well as the first responders and local elected officials “for their grit and determination in the face of this extraordinary storm.”

The statement concludes, “This we know: Houston, and Texas, will come together and rebuild.”

Harvey made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

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10:10 a.m.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo says authorities have rescued 2,000 people from flooding in the city.

Acevedo says the city has 185 critical rescue requests still pending as of Monday morning. He says the goal is to rescue those people by the end of the day.

The comments came at a news conference where officials provided updates on Harvey, which is still pouring rain on the Houston area.

Harvey came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

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9:40 a.m.

The shelter set up inside the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston has already reached half its capacity.

Ken Sandy, a shelter manager for the American Red Cross, said Monday that more than 2,600 people took shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Organizers with the Red Cross estimate the convention center can accommodate roughly 5,000 people.

Sandy says the shelter is currently out of cots and waiting for more to arrive.

With Tropical Storm Harvey still pouring rain on the Houston area, thousands more people are expected to need to evacuate their homes.

The Red Cross has also set up other shelters throughout the area.

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9:20 a.m.

First lady Melania Trump will join President Donald Trump on his trip to storm-battered Texas.

The first lady’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said on Twitter Monday: “@FLOTUS will travel to #Texas w @POTUS this week.”

The White House has said Trump will travel to Texas on Tuesday. More details of the trip have not yet been released.

Harvey is the first major natural disaster of Trump’s presidency and a significant test for a White House that is often chaotic and rife with infighting.

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9:05 a.m.

A major South Texas airport has reopened after being closed due to Harvey.

A city statement said Corpus Christi International Airport resumed commercial air service Monday. Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from there.

Two other major airports in the region, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport in Houston, remain closed as heavy rain and flooding continue. Both have been shut down since midday Sunday as Harvey-related flooding swamped roads leading to the airports

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8:55 a.m.

A Houston-area official says hundreds of people who’ve been rescued from their homes, vehicles and other places amid catastrophic flooding are being taken to dry land but not straight to shelters.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is the top administrator for the county that’s home to Houston. He said at a news conference Monday that many people are being ferried to a parking lot, school or other dry area as rescue personnel move on to the next rescue that’s needed. Those people then are struggling to find shelter, food and other resources.

Emmett says the focus now is on getting those people to shelters.

Meanwhile, Houston police Chief Art Acevedo on Monday told “Good Morning America” that he knows of 200 to 250 water rescues that still must be done in the city and that he hopes they’ll be completed by the end of the day.

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8:35 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is stressing that the federal government will support Harvey recovery efforts going forward.

In an interview with Houston radio station KTRH Monday morning, Pence said the federal government will make the resources available to see Texas through rescue operations and recovery.

Pence noted that given the “magnitude of the flooding” that “it will be years coming back.”

The vice president stressed that President Donald Trump has been “continuously engaged” on Harvey, noting that it is still the “beginning of the effort.” He said details of Trump’s visit to Texas will be “forthcoming.”

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8:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump has issued a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana as a storm that’s flooded Houston dumps heavy bands of rain on that state.

Trump’s emergency declaration on Monday initially covers five parishes in southwest Louisiana: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermillion.

A White House statement says the action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in those counties related to Harvey. The declaration also authorizes the federal government to cover 75 percent of costs of certain emergency protective measures.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says lifesaving efforts including search and rescue and shelters will be needed, especially in southwest Louisiana where forecasters say 10 to 20 inches (25 to 51 centimeters) of rain could fall.

Harvey came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

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8 a.m.

Emergency vehicles made up most of the traffic in downtown Houston on what would have normally been a busy start of the work week.

Due to Harvey, the usually bustling business area was mostly deserted Monday morning.

The water had receded from parts of downtown Houston, near Buffalo Bayou, which flooded over the weekend from the lingering tropical storm. That situation could change as officials have started releasing even more water from reservoirs overwhelmed by Harvey.

About half of downtown Houston had no working traffic signals. Most businesses, including restaurants, were closed due to the storm.

Harvey came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

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7:50 a.m.

Louisiana’s governor is asking President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana since forecasters expect Harvey to cause significant damage in the state.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said he sent a letter to the White House requesting the initial disaster declaration for five parishes in southwest Louisiana, and could add more areas to the request later.

Edwards said life-saving efforts such as search and rescue and shelters will be needed, especially in southwest Louisiana where forecasters say 10 to 20 inches (25 to 51 centimeters) of rain could fall.

Harvey came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 storm. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

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7:15 a.m.

The director of the National Weather Service is warning that the catastrophic flooding that’s overwhelming Houston and other parts of Texas will worsen in the coming days and then be slow to recede once Harvey finally moves on.

Director Louis Uccellini said during a news conference Monday that up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain could fall in the coming days, on top of the more than 30 inches (76 centimeters) some places have already seen.

He says some of the heaviest rainfall today, at a pace of 6 inches (15 centimeters) an hour, will fall east of Houston in places such as Beaumont and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

He adds that while Houston is experiencing a break from the rain Monday morning, heavy rainfall is forecast to return later in the day into Tuesday.

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7:05 a.m.

The Houston police chief is concerned about the prospect of more flooding, but is “keeping (his) fingers crossed” that the rain will subside.

In an interview Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Chief Art Acevedo says drainage is a concern.

He says he’s “not sure where the water is going because it’s just so much that we can’t really absorb more in the ground at this point. … We have way too much water and not enough places for it to drain.”

He says officers have voiced frustration that they don’t have enough high-water vehicles to quickly help everyone who is stranded.

He also warned any criminals who might try to take advantage of the disaster that his force has already arrested half a dozen people for looting.

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7 a.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is asking for volunteers to help Texas recover from Harvey.

William “Brock” Long, FEMA administrator, told a news conference in Washington Monday that “we need citizens to be involved,” because the storm and resulting flooding is greater than the government can handle.

Long urges individuals and organizations to check the website http://www.nvoad.org or call 1-800-621-FEMA to find out how to help. He’s asking for financial donations and for people “to figure out how to get involved as we help Texas find a new normal.”

A National Weather Service official says the peak flooding from the Houston-area storm is expected to max out Wednesday and Thursday, but said the floods will be slow to recede and that catastrophic flooding will persist.

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