First responders were overwhelmed by 911 calls for high water rescues Thursday as Tropical Depression Imelda drenched East Texas with unrelenting rain measured in feet.
Authorities in Jefferson County, east of Houston, said some localized areas have seen more than 40 inches of rain in the last three days. More was coming.
"The Flash Flood Emergency has been continued and expanded," the National Weather Service office in Houston said. "This is an incredibly dangerous, life-threatening situation."
George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston ordered a full ground stop, then struggled with arrival delays averaging almost four hours, the FAA reported. Metro Houston shut down public transportation, and Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that "high water assets" were deployed in parts of the city.
The storms entering Houston were driving wind gusts of up to 50 mph, the National Weather Service said. The swollen grounds will make trees more susceptible to being knocked over, and flash flooding remained the main concern, the weather service warned.
Imelda drenched the Jefferson County town of Hamshire with more than 33.5 inches of rain – including 25 inches of rain in 12 hours – AccuWeather reported. AccuWeather meteorologists predicted localized rain totals could reach an astonishing 55 inches before Imelda's remnants drift away on Friday.
"It's bad. Homes that did not flood in Harvey are flooding now," Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick told the Beaumont Enterprise.
Hurricane Harvey slammed the state in August 2017, a Category 4 beast when it made landfall in Southeast Texas. Parts of Beaumont were devastated by the killer storm.
Two years later, areas of Beaumont found themselves again submerged under more than 20 inches of rain. And Jefferson County authorities warned that up to 10 more inches could fall.
Lamar University shut down for the day. Police warned residents not to leave flooded homes or drive on flooded roads. They also pleaded for patience.