Hurricane Harvey: Donald Trump to visit Texas as 'catastrophic' flooding forces thousands from their homes

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Donald Trump is set to visit Texas after the remnants of Hurricane Harvey brought “catastrophic” flooding to Houston amid fears of a rising death toll.

The US President said he will make the trip as soon as it “can be made without causing disruption”, as it emerged the natural disaster weakened to a tropical storm.

The White House was “coordinating logistics with state and local officials,” a Washington spokeswoman said, adding: “We continue to keep all of those affected in our thoughts and prayers”.

It comes after the National Weather Service (NWS) said the severe conditions were “unprecedented” as rising water forced thousands of people onto their roofs or higher ground.

Up to 2,000 people were rescued. 

A man walks down the median as trucks navigate floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey (AP)

Helicopters, boats and high-water vehicles pulled people from homes and from the water, which was high enough in some places to gush into second floors.

Dramatic photos and videos emerged showing the destruction, with heavy rains predicted to linger for several days.

The NWS issued a flash flood emergency warning and said “catastrophic flooding in the Houston metropolitan area is expected to worsen and could become historic”.

Reports have emerged of possible deaths in submerged vehicles, Chief Darryl Coleman of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said.

The NWS earlier noted reports of five deaths, but only two have been confirmed.

A stranded motorist escapes floodwaters on Interstate 225 (REUTERS)

An elderly woman was the second person killed by the storm as she drove through flooding in Houston on Saturday night, police confirmed.

“It appeared that her vehicle went into high water and she drowned as a result,” said Sergeant Colin Howard of the Houston police department.

On Friday night, a man died in a house fire in the coastly town of Rockport, which was particularly badly hit. 

Another dozen people in the area suffered injuries like broken bones, another official said.

Some parts of Houston and its suburbs could receive as much as 50 inches of rain – which would be the highest amount ever recorded in Texas.

Mayor Sylvester Turner urged residents not to call emergency services unless their situation is life-threatening and they need to be rescued.

He said authorities had received more than 2,000 calls for help, with more coming in.

“I don’t need to tell anyone this is a very, very serious and unprecedented storm,” he told a news conference. 

“We have several hundred structural flooding reports. We expect that number to rise pretty dramatically. Don’t get on the road. Don’t assume this storm is over,” he said.

Some 1,800 military personal were mobilised to help with the rescue mission.

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