Houston declared a disaster zone as five drown in flash floods
Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30
HOUSTON has been declared a disaster zone after at least five people died when rain deluged America's fourth-largest city.
Heavy flooding has become nearly an annual rite of passage in the practically sea-level city, where experts have long warned of the potential for catastrophe.
"I regret anyone whose home is flooded again," said city mayor Sylvester Turner.
"There's nothing I can say that's going to ease your frustration. We certainly can't control the weather," he said.
"A lot of rain coming in a very short period of time, there's nothing you can do," he added.
The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has declared a state of emergency.
Flash flooding and more rain is possible a day after some areas saw water levels approaching 1.5m.
Scores of homes flooded, schools were closed and power was knocked out to thousands of residents who were urged to shelter in their homes.
Flooding has occurred due to rivers and creeks bursting their banks. Rising water has submerged homes and vehicles, forcing people to swim or take boats to safety.
In addition to its location, Houston's "gumbo" soft soil, fast-growing population and building boom that has turned empty pastures into housing developments all over the city's suburbs make it vulnerable to high waters, experts say.
Harris County, where Houston and many of its suburbs are located, has seen a 30pc jump in population since 2000.
Its surrounding counties have grown by more than 10pc since 2000, according to the Greater Houston Partnership, a business group.
Rainstorms last May caused major flooding but no deaths.