Houston largely shut down amid rain, flooding

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(CNN) — More than a foot of rain in some places flooded low-lying areas across the Houston region on Monday, forcing officials to suspend bus and rail service, close schools and government offices and urge residents to stay home amid what authorities said were extremely dangerous conditions.

Semi-truck gets stuck on flooded road in Houston.

Semi-truck gets stuck on flooded road in Houston.

“This is a life-threatening emergency,” the city said on an emergency website. “Houston residents should avoid travel at all costs today.”

No injuries or deaths have been reported, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters Monday, but crews have had to head into the high waters to rescue more than 400 people, fire department spokesman Ruy Lozano told CNN.

At least 1,000 homes were flooded in Harris County, according to county Judge Ed Emmett. Some people were trapped in their homes or attics, Lozano said.

The water was too deep for crews to reach them in high-water vehicles, so rescuers were trying to get to those people in boats, he said.

Nine hospitals in the region were closed to additional patients because of the flooding, the mayor said. Three apartment buildings had been evacuated and residents were being sheltered at a mall, Turner added.

Portions of I-10 and numerous roads throughout the metropolitan area were closed, as were many government offices. The city’s bus and rail service shut down early Monday amid “severe and ever worsening weather conditions.”

The storm snarled traffic at Houston’s Hobby Airport, where more than 140 flights had been canceled as of early afternoon, according to the airport’s Twitter account.

What is normally a bike and running path, now resembles a river in Houston. The view from Hogan Street bridge shows Downtown Houston in the background.

What is normally a bike and running path, now resembles a river in Houston. The view from Hogan Street bridge shows Downtown Houston in the background.

As of early afternoon, some 88,000 homes and businesses in the region were without electricity, according to CenterPoint Energy. That was down from a peak of 123,000 earlier in the day, the utility said.

Some areas had received as much as 16 inches of rain by Monday morning, according to the flood control district.

The heavy rains forced seven of the city’s many bayous out of their banks and created flooding in parts of the city that had not flooded for many years, Turner said.

Flash flood warnings were up in about two dozen Texas counties across in the southern part of the state, including the Houston and Austin metropolitan areas.

The situation is the result of a nearly stationary area of low pressure that has stalled over the western United States, allowing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to flow into Texas over the last few days, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.

Very heavy rainfall is expected to continue through Tuesday before the system begins to move off to the northeast and weaken, he said.

Houston overpass looks like a waterfall due to flooding.

Houston overpass looks like a waterfall due to flooding.