Texas hasn't seen storms flood since Hurricane Harvey

(CNN) — Flooding is intensifying in Texas after powerful storms and heavy rains swept away vehicles, damaged homes and prompted evacuations.

This week's storms are the latest in a string of brutal weather events that have hit the state since early April. Dozens of hurricanes have struck from the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast, parts of the state have been battered by baseball-sized hail, and months of rain and strong winds have pounded East Texas, causing rivers to swell to levels not seen since Hurricane Harvey's devastating floods in 2017.

Some communities north of Houston received nearly two months of rain on Thursday. The rains submerged roads and overflowed rivers, prompting evacuations and water rescues.

In Polk County, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Houston, about 700 homes were flooded, according to emergency management officials, who warned that additional rain could continue to raise flood levels in the coming days.

Polk County Judge Sidney Murphy told CNN that a total of 1,000 homes in the county are in mandatory evacuation zones, where rescue efforts are underway. A flood alert has been in force since Friday in the district.

The judge also said that they are anxiously watching what is happening in the north of the district due to floods as it affects the district.

“As rain continues to fall in East Texas and water levels in streams and rivers rise, flood levels may increase. Be aware of changes in flood levels along the Trinity River and all low levels. “If you want to evacuate, do it now!'' the Office of Emergency Management said in a recent Facebook post. As stated in the post.

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In parts of Harris County north of Houston, residents on the east side of the East Fork of the San Jacinto River were ordered Thursday to evacuate. The river reached major flood stage Thursday and is forecast to crest Saturday morning, an inch from the record level reached during Hurricane Harvey.

“We want them out of this area … this is a life-threatening situation,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a news conference.

According to Hidalgo, the expected amount of rising water will affect overhead structures and may rise to roofs or power lines.

Flooding in Livingston, Texas.  (Credit: Drone Brothers)

Flooding in Livingston, Texas. (Credit: Drone Brothers)

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of San Jacinto County and Polk County due to flooding, with voluntary evacuations for Montgomery County.

Disaster declarations are active in more than a third of Texas counties after Governor Greg Abbott expanded storm declarations in response to flooding. Additional counties may be added in the coming days, especially as more storms are in the forecast.

Parts of East Texas have received three to seven times more rain than normal over the past three to four weeks. Repeated heavy rains have soaked the soil, leaving many areas highly prone to flash and river flooding. Almost a foot of rain fell in some places between Thursday and Friday morning, the final blow. The rain will continue until Friday night, with 25 to 50 millimeters of rain possible.

The worst flooding is concentrated in southeast Texas, where at least a dozen river gauges, including parts of the San Jacinto and Trinity rivers, were at major flood stage as of Friday morning. More locations are forecast to experience significant flooding over the weekend and could meet or exceed levels recorded during Harvey.

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Hurricane Harvey caused widespread flooding in Houston after dropping 762 to 1,016 millimeters of rain in 48 hours. While this week's flooding was significant, it was much less widespread and occurred north of where Harvey's worst rain fell.

A severe storm hit the state

Strong storms formed tornadoes north and south of the Abilene area of ​​West Texas as rain flooded East Texas. Eight tornadoes were reported Thursday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

A “large and very dangerous” tornado hit the towns of Hodges and Hawley, about 10 miles north of Abilene, on Thursday night.

(Credit: Brett Hendrickson/LSM)

(Credit: Brett Hendrickson/LSM)

About 30 houses in Hawley were destroyed by the cyclone, and entire sections of some houses were completely exposed. Cars passing through were also damaged by flying debris. Hawley Police Chief Brad Wilson told CNN that there were “numerous” injuries, but no deaths had been reported as of Friday morning.

At least one area school district will allow students to study from home or take time to recover Friday following Thursday night's damaging tornadoes.

“The Hawley community has been greatly impacted and we have many families who have lost their homes,” the Hawley Independent School District said in a Facebook post.

A tornado causes damage in Hawley, Texas on May 2, 2024.  (Fred Hendrickson/LSM)

A tornado causes damage in Hawley, Texas on May 2, 2024. (Fred Hendrickson/LSM)

A house damaged by Thursday's storms between Hawley and Hodges, Texas.  (KTXS)

A house damaged by Thursday's storms between Hawley and Hodges, Texas. (KTXS)

Severe thunderstorms are possible in parts of Texas Friday afternoon and evening. A 3 out of 5 risk of severe thunderstorms remains for parts of west-central Texas, including areas hit hard Thursday.

CNN's Andy Rose, Joe Sutton and Paradise Afshar contributed to this report.

Eden Hayes

"Wannabe gamer. Subtly charming beer buff. General pop culture trailblazer. Incurable thinker. Certified analyst."

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