Officials warn deluged Houston could see 4-5 more days of rain

HOUSTON -- Rescue workers in Houston and other parts of Texas renewed search efforts Sunday for residents trapped in their homes by Tropical Storm Harvey's rising floodwaters.

More than 1,000 people were rescued overnight from record flooding in the area, authorities said. The storm has killed two people in Texas, said authorities, who added they expect the death toll to rise.

Law enforcement agencies advised people trapped in their houses not to take shelter in their attics unless they carried axes so they could break through to their roofs and within sight of rescue workers.

People said they were stranded in houses and hotels and hoped for help now that morning has come to Texas.

"We are still stranded in our home with little kids and the water keeps rising," Houston resident Janet Castillo said Sunday morning. "We have called already to several numbers but no luck. We have (tried) but their lines are all busy or they don't answer."

Jake Lewis said he woke up to ankle-deep water in the Houston hotel where he was staying.

"We have nowhere to go," said Lewis, of New Braunfels, Texas. "If you go out and look at the service road it's flooded. I have a 2016 Chevy Silverado and the water is up to the door panels. The water keeps rising."

One of two confirmed fatalities in the ferocious storm happened in Houston when a woman drove her vehicle into high water, city police said.

Police said they believe the car became inoperable or the water was too high to pass through. The victim got out of her vehicle, was overtaken by floodwaters and drowned.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez urged people to think twice before they leave their house and wade through water.

"The instinct is to want to exit out and just try to go find safer ground somewhere, but sometimes the water could be more treacherous," he said, noting manhole covers might have lifted.

Mayor Sylvester Turner advised residents in the country's fourth-most populous city with that even if floodwater made its way into their homes, they should stay put, unless the water poses a danger.

"If water gets in but it's not life threatening, I'm going to ask you simply stay put. Do not get on the roadway," he said.

Lt. Craig Cummings of the Texas Department of Public Safety said it took him 2 1/2 hours to go 20 miles in Houston on Sunday.

"There's 60 barricaded locations as of midnight. Most thoroughfares are impassable. Several hundred structures are flooded, and we are expecting that number to rise," he said.

Houston authorities are stretched to their limits, as 911 operators have received more than 2,000 calls requesting rescue, Turner said.

Houston fire chief Samuel Pena adds they have responded to 2,500 calls and have about 1,000 more waiting to be serviced. The mayor asked residents to use restraint in calling 911.

"I know people who call 911 may not be getting a response. Let's give preference to the life-threatening calls," he said.

Turner defended his decision not to order evacuations before Harvey made landfall Friday. Nobody was sure exactly where the storm would hit, he said.

"If you give an order to evacuate, you create a nightmare" if it's not done right, he said.