New evacuations were ordered Monday in the nation’s fourth-largest city, as rising floodwaters that turned Houston streets into rivers navigable only by boat now threaten dams across the region — while rescuers pleaded for more boats to reach residents trapped in their homes.
In a new round of evacuations, residents living near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs — that were designed to prevent flooding in downtown Houston — were warned Sunday that a controlled release from both reservoirs would cause additional street flooding that could spill into homes.
“The idea is to prepare … pack up what you need and put it in your vehicle and when the sun comes up, get out,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District told the Associated Press. “And you don’t have to go far, you just need to get out of this area.”
The Army Corps of Engineers started the reservoir releases before 2 a.m. Monday — ahead of schedule — because water levels were increasing dramatically at a rate of more than six inches per hour, a Corps spokesman Jay Townsend said.
The Addicks and Barker reservoirs are both nearly full as a result of the unprecedented downpours brought by the storm. They sit approximately 20 miles to the east of Houston’s city center.
If they fail, the water they hold will rush over the already flooded city in an uncontrolled wave.
To avert this disaster, officials began draining them slowly on Sunday night.
Water is being released at a rate of 2600 cubic feet per second from Addicks and 2000 cubic ft from Barker.
They will gradually increase this speed to 8,000 cubic ft per second as the day goes on.
Though better than the alternative wave of water, the release will make water levels in the already swamped area Buffalo Bayou rise even more.