HOUSTON (AP) — Floodwaters deepened in Texas on Tuesday as storms dumped almost another foot of rain on the Houston area, stranding hundreds of motorists and inundating the famously congested highways that serve the nation's fourth-largest city.
Meanwhile, the search went on for at least 13 people who were still missing, including a group that disappeared after a vacation home was swept down the river and slammed into a bridge.
Several more fatalities were reported — four in Houston and four more in central Texas. That brought to 17 the number of people killed by the holiday weekend storms in Texas and Oklahoma.
The water rose sharply overnight as about 11 more inches of rain fell, much of it in a six-hour period. By Tuesday evening, most rivers had receded within their banks.
The floodwaters affected virtually every part of the city and paralyzed some areas. Firefighters carried out more than 500 water rescues, most involving stranded motorists. At least 2,500 vehicles were abandoned by drivers seeking higher ground, officials said.
"Given the magnitude and how quickly it happened, in such a short period of time, I've never seen this before," said Rick Flanagan, Houston's emergency management coordinator.
The drenching weather threatened to linger. National Weather Service forecasts called for a 20 to 40 percent chance of thunderstorms through the rest of the week in Houston.
Interstate 45 near downtown was backed up for miles Tuesday morning, and a few motorists traveled the wrong way on the highway to retreat from high water.
Some motorists were stuck on I-45 all night. They slept in their cars until the backup was cleared about 8 a.m.
A spokeswoman for the flood district of Harris County, which includes Houston, said up to 700 homes had some level of damage.
Some of the worst flooding in Texas was in Wimberley, a popular tourist town along the Blanco River in the corridor between Austin and San Antonio. That's where the vacation home was swept away.
The "search component" of the mission ended Monday night, meaning that no more survivors were expected to be found, said Trey Hatt, a spokesman for the Hays County Emergency Operations Center.