Floodwaters receding in Texas, Louisiana
HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- Residents of southeast Texas and southern Louisiana are cleaning up water damage and returning to their homes Monday as deadly floodwaters triggered by the remnants of Tropical Storm Allison began to recede.
At least 17 deaths are being blamed on the deluge -- 16 in the Houston area and one near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. About 10,000 people remain in 39 emergency shelters in Harris County, Texas. About 1,550 people are still without power and many have reported losing phone service.
Rain has stopped in Texas and Louisiana and moved into Mississippi, southern Alabama and the panhandle of Florida.
The levels of some rivers are receding in Texas and Louisiana, and while other river levels were still high Monday morning, they were expected to recede later in the day.
More than 20,000 homes in Harris County have been damaged by high water, according to Mike Stotler, Harris County emergency management official. But, he said, "a lot of people have made their way back home."
Houston Mayor Lee Brown said the flooding has caused at least $1 billion in damage in his city alone, but Kathy Walt, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said that until floodwaters fully recede it would be "impossible to get an accurate dollar figure" on the damage.
Gov. Perry and Federal Emergency Management Agency director Joe Allbaugh are to meet at 2 p.m. CDT and will hold a news conference.
In downtown Houston, many buildings were flooded and basement electrical transformers were knocked out. Many businesses and government buildings were closed Monday for cleanup as the mayor called for a day of recovery.
Among buildings shut Monday were city and county courts, the federal courthouse, the Federal Reserve office building and Houston's three major performing arts centers: Jones Hall, Wortham Theater and Alley Theater.
Rivers and bayous overflowed after being pounded with as much as 28 inches of rain since Tuesday. Many roads remain flooded, though most of Houston's freeways have reopened.
While most of the deaths were drownings, at least two of the Houston deaths were electrocutions, and the Louisiana death occurred when a tree fell on a car, crushing the occupant.
The National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard continued rescue operations in the Houston area Sunday. President Bush and Perry have declared 28 counties in southeast Texas as a disaster area.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up a toll-free number for Texas flood victims to apply for disaster assistance. That number is: 800-462-9029.
One-third of Louisiana hard hit
In Louisiana, more than a third of the state's parishes were under state and local emergencies Monday as they dealt with the flooding and damage caused by the remnants of the tropical storm.
Federal disaster officials Monday planned to accompany state personnel to the 23 parishes where Gov. Mike Foster issued disaster declarations, said Jim Ballow of the State Office of Emergency Preparedness. They are to make damage assessments and determine the shelter needs of affected residents.
Ballow expected a 24th parish to be added to the emergency list by the end of the day. Louisiana has 64 parishes.
About 1,100 homes were flooded in East Baton Rouge alone, and about 1,800 families were evacuated. "That's typical of what's going on in the southern portion of the state," Ballow said.
Emergency workers were sandbagging along rivers and bayous, he said, and authorities were trying to rescue trapped residents and bring them to higher ground.
"We're still in the response mode," he said, "and it will change to the recovery mode when the system moves away."
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