Catastrophic Floods Threaten Millions After Hurricane Harvey Drenches Houston

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Heavy rain pummeled the nation’s fourth-largest city Monday morning as one of the worst flooding disasters in recent U.S. history was ongoing — and poised to get worse. More flooding is ahead for the Houston region, forecasters warn and an already dire situation could soon become desperate. Death toll has not been confirmed.
 Upstream and west of Houston, two giant reservoirs, built in the 1940s to protect the city from flooding, are already nearing capacity. The Addicks and Barker dams, which hold back the reservoirs’ collective 410,000 acre-feet of water, were deemed by the Army Corps of Engineers to be at “extremely high risk of catastrophic failure” in 2009 and named two of the country’s six most dangerous dams in 2012. (One acre-foot of water is enough to cover a football field with a foot of water.) If the dams fail, the Houston Chronicle reported last year, half the city could be underwater.
To prevent the structures from failing, the Army Corps of Engineers, which runs the dams, began releasing water from both the Addicks and Barker reservoirs this morning.
Water is expected to rise about 4 to 6 inches per hour in Buffalo Bayou, which cuts through downtown Houston, after the controlled release. Much of the area is already flooded from the heavy rain. All roads near the dams will be flooded “for an extended period of time,” and homes upstream of the reservoirs could be flooded for months, Col. Lars Zetterstrom, the Corps’ district commander, said Sunday.
According to KHOU, thousands of homes will likely be impacted by the release. Officials have urged residents in the area to leave their homes as part of a voluntary evacuation, but to only do so on Monday when there is daylight.
David Lohr/HuffPost 
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