Hurricane Harvey: Dramatic images show 'catastrophic flooding' in Texas amid fears of rising death toll

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The remnants of Hurricane Harvey have brought “catastrophic flooding” to Houston, with up to 2,000 people rescued amid fears of a rising death toll.

The natural disaster has weakened to a tropical storm but continues to batter Texas with heavy rains.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said the severe conditions were “unprecedented” as rising water forced thousands of people onto their roofs or higher ground, overwhelming rescuers unable to keep up with constant calls for help.

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.

Residents are rescued from their homes surrounded by floodwaters (AP)

Dramatic photos and videos have emerged capturing 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.

Residents are rescued from their homes surrounded by floodwaters (AP)

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.

A stranded motorist escapes floodwaters on Interstate 225 (REUTERS)

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

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

A Texas National Guard soldier carries a woman on his back amid rescue operations (REUTERS)

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.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has mobilised 1,800 military personnel to help with rescue and repair operations.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that he would visit Texas “as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption.” 

He added: “The focus must be life and safety.” 

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