Sun Aug 27, 2017 08:59AM
Flooded houses after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Flooded houses after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Rescue crews raced against rising floodwaters on Sunday to pull hundreds of stranded residents from their homes in southeast Texas as Harvey, the most powerful storm to hit the state in more than 50 years, roared inland.

The storm has killed at least two people and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter early on Sunday the death toll could rise, with his deputies responding to reports of submerged vehicles on Interstate 10, one of them possibly with a deceased woman and child inside.

The second confirmed fatality from Tropical Storm Harvey came on Saturday evening as a woman attempted to drive through flooded streets on Houston's west side, said Sergeant Colin Howard of the Houston police department.

"It appeared that her vehicle went into high water and she drowned as a result," he said. The victim was not immediately identified.

Authorities have urged residents to stay off the streets of Houston and other southeast Texas cities as rain falling at up to 5 inches per hour flooded roads and major intersections.

On Friday night, a man died in a house fire in the town of Rockport, 30 miles (48 km) north of Corpus Christi. Another dozen people in the area suffered injuries such as broken bones, another official said.

Mobile homes are upended in the Paradise Lagoons RV Resort in Aransas Pass, Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, August 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Harris County Joint Information center said first responders were conducting hundreds of rescues early on Sunday morning as calls came in across the county.

Gonzalez' Twitter feed was inundated by residents asking for help and the sheriff could only tell some of them that crews were doing the best they can.

"All agencies care but everyone simply operating at maximum capacity," he tweeted at one point.

Harvey slammed into Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km per hour), making it the strongest storm to hit the state since 1961.

It has since lingered over Houston, dumping amounts of rain that threaten to break the record established nearly 40 years ago when Alvin, Texas, was deluged by 43 inches of rain in 24 hours from July 24-25, 1979.

The storm ripped off roofs, snapped trees, triggered tornadoes and flash floods and cut off power to nearly 230,000 people, mostly in the Houston area, on Saturday night. Houston police officials said officers were evacuating two flooded apartment complexes.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency alert for the area around William P. Hobby Airport, and the airport said on Twitter that the arrivals section was flooded.

Trees stripped bare of leaves after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Oil and gas production was largely halted in the state, prompting price hikes at the pumps.

"There are a number of stranded people on our streets, calling 911, exhausting needed resources. You can help by staying off the streets," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Twitter.

(Source: Reuters)