Imelda Leaves 5 Dead, Massive Flooding in Southeast Texas
TEXAS—September 24, 2019—Five people have died as a result of Tropical Storm Imelda and its remnants, which made landfall in Freeport, Texas last Tuesday and dumped massive rainfall on much of southeast Texas. According to The New York Times, most of the area received at least 9 inches of rain from Tuesday to Friday, but in isolated areas, the totals are much higher. For example, to the southwest of Beaumont, the hardest-hit areas saw 43 inches of rain. Imelda ranks as the seventh-wettest tropical cyclone to impact the United States.
The rain has left homes flooded and roads impassable. Parts of Interstate 10, a major freeway in Houston, were closed after loose barges hit the bridge over the San Jacinto River, according to NBC News. To the northeast of Beaumont, floodwaters reached up to the rooflines of homes in Vidor, Texas. By Friday morning in Harris County, which includes Houston, responders performed 425 high-water rescues and Houston police reported towing more than 1,600 vehicles from city roads due to Imelda.
Property damages are still being assessed, but NBC News reported that in Winnie, Texas alone, a community of 3,200 between Houston and Beaumont, about 800 homes and businesses were damaged by flooding. The Insurance Council of Texas reported that more than 10,000 flooded vehicle claims were filed as of Monday morning, and it expects to see billions of dollars in property damage estimates.
Some of the flooded areas are the same as those hit in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, which dropped more than 60 inches of rain on southeast Texas, causing 68 deaths and historic flooding, according to NBC News. The NOAA lists damages from Harvey at $125 billion, second only to Hurricane Katrina in U.S. history. For many residents, the recovery from Harvey took more than a year, and now some are beginning that process all over again.
As Imelda’s cleanup begins, the National Hurricane Center is tracking three more storms in the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Jerry is expected to turn northeast by tonight, bringing tropical-storm-force winds, large swells, and dangerous rip currents to Bermuda later today. For Bermuda, which sees relatively few hurricanes, this will be the second storm in a week to impact the island. Category 3 Hurricane Humberto passed just north of Bermuda last Wednesday, leaving wind damage and 80% of the island without power.
Tropical Storm Karen is tracking just south of Puerto Rico and is expected to bring heavy rain, flash flooding, and mudslides to Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands later today and into tomorrow, according to the NHC. Tropical Storm Lorenzo, still far out to sea, is forecast to become a large and powerful hurricane, but it is too early to say if it will affect any land.