US & Canada

Houston floods: Disaster zone declared after 'historic' rainfall

Media captionHouston TV reporter rescues driver from flood waters

Flash flooding and more rain is possible in Houston, a day after record rainfall killed five people.

Meteorologists said some 17.6in (44.7cm) of rain fell on the city on Monday alone, levels that national officials said were "historic".

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of emergency in Houston, where 70,000 people were left without power.

Rivers burst their banks in the fourth-largest US city and 1,200 people were rescued from rising floodwaters.

At least 1,000 homes have flooded, with the number likely to rise. City officials have turned a large shopping centre into an evacuation centre.

Media captionThe BBC's Alex Deakin explains why these storms have happened

As well as telling people not to drive in the fast-flowing waters, city officials warned against allowing children to play in waters that are likely to contain snakes and ants.

Among the worst-hit areas is Greenspoint, a poor, mainly Hispanic district of more than 112,000 people to the north of the city centre.

Footage broadcast in Texas showed Greenspoint families moving belongings and children through floodwaters on air beds and inside a refrigerator.

Image copyright AP
Image caption More than 70 horses were rescued from rising waters
Image copyright Houston Chronicle
Image caption Waters in one spot were 12m higher than the record
Image copyright AP
Image caption Rains are expected to ease by Tuesday
Image copyright AP

"Do not think the city is not seeing you," Mayor Sylvester Turner told Greenspoint residents in a press conference.

"It's a situation where all throughout the city, and quite frankly all throughout our region, we're dealing with high water."

At least one of those who died was found in a submerged car, local media reported.

Close to 70 horses were rescued from a flooded stable before police officers were able to lead them to safety through floodwaters.

One Houston flood official said waters recorded in one area were 40ft (12 metres) higher than the previous record.

The city, on the Gulf of Mexico, is prone to heavy rains, and has seen a number of major flooding events in the last year alone.

However, this flood is the largest to strike the city since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which led to 23 deaths across the state, the City of Houston Twitter account said.

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