At least nine people have been killed and thousands left homeless by Hurricane Harvey, which has brought unprecedented rainfall to the US state of Texas since it made landfall there on Friday.
Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, is experiencing “catastrophic” flooding and 50 counties have been declared state disaster areas by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
“As Harvey dumped rain on East Texas and the waters rose, people started to panic, rushing rescue boats and even shooting at them if they didn’t stop,” CNN says.
And the worst effects of the storm may yet be to come. “Already it’s dumped about 80 centimetres (31 inches) of water on Houston, and that’s expected to double over the next few days,” ABC News says.
The category 4 hurricane, which had been downgraded to a tropical storm, appears to be strengthening again, and weather forecasters fear that it could return to the coast where it would gather more power.
“Harvey’s circulation is crawling eastward and the center of the storm is forecast to track through the state of Louisiana later this week,” said Fox News Meteorologist Janice Dean. “The steady flow of winds over the Gulf will put Louisiana in line for a steady stream of heavy rain, including cities like Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and New Orleans.”
US President Donald Trump has promised to fund relief efforts, despite threatening to shut down the government in a dispute with Congress about funding his proposed border wall with Mexico.
“You’re going to see very rapid action from Congress,” he said. “You’re going to get your funding. It’s a terrible tragedy. You’ll have what you want very quickly.”