Thousands near Houston still need rescue from flood waters

Flood rescues continued non-stop Tuesday even though the heaviest rain is to the east near the Louisiana border.

More than 17,000 people have been sheltered across Texas shelters, and many more are on the way. Harvey is still a tropical storm churning off the Galveston Coast.

At least 15 people have been confirmed dead across Southeast Texas, including a Houston police officer who drowned on Sunday while trying to drive into work.

The Harris County Flood System estimates more than 20 percent of the county is under water from the flooding. That would be more than 350 square miles.

First responders rescued hundreds of people from one neighborhood in the Sienna Plantation subdivision of Missouri City. One by one, hundreds of people were delivered from their homes in Sienna Plantation that is nearly under water.

"I've lived in Houston for more than 20 years,” said Chris Bein. “And I never thought it would happen to us."

Just like the rain, the rescue effort has also been relentless. First responders are on their fifth day responding to calls all over the Houston area.

"My house is of course completely under water,” said Noemi Candal. “We left our cat home because we couldn't get her out, and the fire department went in and got her out. Words cannot express how thankful I am."

Neighbors who were able to get out of their homes in the community along the flooded Brazos River are soliciting boat owners to go door-to-door to make sure everyone is evacuated.

Other areas of the subdivision required professional help, using military tactical vehicles and swamp buggies.

Search crews have rescued 600 people in 24 hours from Monday to Tuesday afternoon, and the rescues are still happening.

Game Warden Tony Norton is out of Garland.

"If we don't get them out and anything else happens or the water rises even more, they're going to be trapped in their attics,” he said. “I would definitely compare this to Katrina on a widespread level. It's more widespread. It's a bigger area that we're trying to concentrate resources in and there are more calls for service."

The streets of Kingwood, a town northeast of Houston, remain flooded and only continue to get worse.

The town has seen a constant traffic of boats and jet skis to get people out. Water started coming up into the streets Tuesday morning. Within hours, it was flooding homes closest to the river.

Several residents said they just didn't think it would get this bad. Once they realized they were in danger, it was too late.

Kristi Rothenberger and her husband were rescued by a boat. She's thankful her cat, Froto, is ok.

"I said, ‘We have to go back and get him even though he's on the second floor.’ I knew he was scared and didn't have enough food,’” she recalled. “It’s devastating. It's terrible. Our cars are submerged. Water is almost to the second floor. Homes are ruined, and people have lost almost everything.”

There are more than 300 homes in this northeast Houston community. Rescuers say they've gone house to house trying to make sure everyone was accounted for. Those who were rescued said they've never been more excited to see a total stranger in a boat. One man told rescuers he wanted to stay.

There were also 14 horses in high water on one property. Since the gate was opened, they were able to run to higher ground. The hope is that the water doesn't rise any higher than they can handle.

Spring is a suburb north of Houston not far from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. It’s another one of the areas where the water continues to rise.

A group of volunteers from Whitney, Texas was in Spring and were going by boat to rescue people.

“There’s so much that needs to be done that it’s a little bit of a mess,” said volunteer Jason Hunt. “We know of areas where people need help and law enforcement won’t let us go down the road to get boats in the water. They have to keep people safe, and I understand that.”

Hunt said he was compelled to head to the Houston area to help after watching all the devastation and the help needed in Harvey.

“Watching what all this going on the news and how inundated everybody was there wasn't enough help,” he said.

The goal for everyone in the Houston area is preserving life. Those efforts continue to be focused on getting people out of their flooded homes before water continues to rise.

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