Debris shows Houston’s recovery from Harvey, in photos

FILE - In this photo combination, volunteers pilot their rescue boats into a flooded neighborhood in Spring, Texas, top, to help rescue stranded residents from rising floodwaters following Tropical Storm Harvey on Aug. 28, 2017, and cars drive down the same street on Sept. 5, bottom, after the floodwaters receded. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston-area neighborhoods that were full of Harvey’s floodwater last week are now full of debris: waterlogged furniture, ruined appliances and soggy carpet and Sheetrock piled up in front yards.

It’s not pretty, but it shows that the nation’s fourth largest city is starting to recover after catastrophic floods left many homes and roads under several feet of water in spots.

Houston officials said they are still doing damage assessments around the city and didn’t immediately have estimates of what percentage of the city was flooded by Harvey or how much is still underwater.

“Every portion of the city of Houston had flood water in it, water in streets or in residences,” said Michael Walter, a spokesman for the Houston Office of Emergency Management. Once damage assessments are done, that will “give us a better view of how many homes were flooded and give us a better idea of the impact from this event.”

The Harris County Flood Control District has estimated that 70 percent of the county’s land mass, about 1,300 square miles, was submerged by at least 1 1/2 feet of water. Houston is in Harris County. The 70 percent figure includes flooding of homes but also of streets and green spaces in the county, said Karen Hastings, a flood control district spokeswoman.

Officials didn’t immediately have an estimate of what percent of Harris Country still remains flooded by Harvey.

A major trouble spot continues to be neighborhoods in west Houston where about 4,600 apartments and houses remain flooded due to ongoing water releases from two reservoirs that have to be drained following Harvey’s torrential rains. Those homes are expected to remain flooded for nearly a week or more until the releases from the reservoirs are reduced.

While officials are still assessing the effects of Harvey, they estimate that at least 136,000 homes were damaged by the storm.

“We believe that’s a conservative estimate,” said Francisco Sanchez, a spokesman for the Harris County Office of Emergency Management.

While most roadways are clear, there were still 58 locations across the county that have high water and are contributing to traffic problems, Sanchez said.

A section of a tollway that encircles Houston and serves as one of the city’s main roadways also remains flooded on the city’s west side and its closure has contributed to heavier than normal traffic across the metro area.

Mayor Sylvester Turner asked residents of Houston on Wednesday for understanding.

“This is our first full week coming back since the storm hit Houston,” Turner said Wednesday. “This is going to be the roughest week. I certainly would encourage people to be patient. I think every day things are getting a little bit better.”

Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast of Texas on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane. It soon downgraded to a tropical storm but dropped record amounts of rain on Houston and Southeast Texas. It later moved back to the Gulf before returning to shore in Louisiana.

At least 70 deaths in Texas have been attributed to Harvey.

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