The Latest: Trauma center space for expected new patients

Wilford Martinez, Richard Wagner
Wilford Martinez, right, is rescued from his flooded car by Harris County Sheriff's Department Richard Wagner along Interstate 610 in floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on Tropical Storm Harvey (all times local):

2:03 a.m.

One of the nation’s busiest trauma centers is clearing space for an influx of patients it expects will need care once Tropical Storm Harvey stops dumping rain on the Houston area.

Harris Health System spokesman Bryan McLeod said early Tuesday that Ben Taub Hospital had moved a handful of patients to other facilities and received fresh linens and food. McLeod said the goal was to move about 60 of its 350 patients to make more room at the 440-bed hospital.

Houston remained mostly paralyzed by rain more than four days after Harvey came ashore as a Category 4 storm and caused massive flooding.

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11:40 p.m.

A spokeswoman for a Houston hotel says one of its employees disappeared while helping about 100 guests and workers evacuate the building.

Omni Hotel spokeswoman Kristen Candenhead said in an email Monday night that a team has been searching every available area of the Omni Houston that is safe to access but there has so far been no sign of the worker.

She says the hotel is not identifying the employee out of respect for the missing worker’s family.

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11 p.m.

About 7,000 people have arrived at the shelter set up inside the George R. Brown Convention Center, which originally had an estimated capacity of 5,000.

Red Cross spokesman Lloyd Ziel said Monday that volunteers have made more space inside the convention center, in part, by pushing some cots closer together. A shortage of cots means some people will have to sleep on chairs or the floor.

After an occasionally chaotic several hours Monday as thousands of evacuees arrived in the pouring rain, the center settled down as people went to sleep. People hung towels and wet clothes on the bases of the ceiling supports inside the convention hall. Police officers were stationed at several entrances.

Officials opened a 1,000-person capacity shelter Monday night south of downtown and were still identifying places to potentially open a second major shelter like the convention center.

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10:45 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says more heavy rainfall from Harvey is expected in the Houston area.

The center’s 10 p.m. CDT advisory promises more rain overnight from the tropical storm to worsen an already dire flood situation in Southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana.

The storm center was marked 145 miles (235 kilometers) southwest of Port Arthur, Texas, or about 114 miles (183 kilometers) south of Houston, and was drifting east-southeast at 3 mph (6 kmh) with sustained winds of up to 45 mph (75 kmh).

The storm was expected to make a slow turn to the northeast on Tuesday, placing the center just off the middle and upper Texas Gulf coast through Tuesday night before moving inland. Harvey is expected to produce 10 to 20 additional inches or rain over the upper Texas coast and southwestern Louisiana through Thursday, with isolated storm totals maybe reaching 50 inches over the Houston-Galveston area and the upper Texas coast.

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10:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is expected to visit two Texas cities for updates on the devastating flooding that has paralyzed the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The White House announced late Monday that the president and first lady Melania Trump will depart Tuesday morning for Corpus Christi, where they’ll receive a briefing on relief efforts by local leaders and relief organizations.

The couple will then head to Austin for a tour of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Operations Center.

The trip will conclude with a briefing there from state leaders.

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9:55 p.m.

Houston authorities say they have not received any reports of gunshots being fired at a group of volunteers known as the Cajun Navy, despite a spokesman for the group saying shots were fired.

The Cajun Navy is a group of volunteers that formed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. They have dispatched people to help during Harvey.

Clyde Cain of the Louisiana Cajun Navy’s says on the group’s Facebook page Monday night that he wasn’t sure if looters fired at the rescuers or fired up into the air. He says no one was hurt.

The Houston Emergency Operations center says it checked with police, who said they had not received any reports of shots being fired at the Cajun Navy.

Cain described a chaotic scene out on the floodwaters. He says some people are posing as rescuers and are robbing people. He says the Cajun Navy is being very careful when they approach stores that may be the target of looters.

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9:20 p.m.

A Houston woman says that she presumes six members of a family, including four of her grandchildren, have died after their van sank into Greens Bayou in East Houston.

Virginia Saldivar says her brother-in-law, Samuel Saldivar, was driving the van Sunday, trying to deliver his parents and her four grandchildren to safety. He was crossing a bridge when a strong current in the floodwaters took the van. It pitched forward over the bridge into a bayou. Saldivar was able to climb out of a window and urged the children, siblings ages 6 to 16, to escape through the back door, but they could not.

Virginia Saldivar says: “I’m just hoping we find the bodies.”

Houston emergency officials say they cannot confirm the deaths.

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9 p.m.

The second night inside the George R. Brown Convention Center has been much louder and at times more chaotic than the first, as the downtown Houston shelter exceeds its original stated capacity.

Police officers and Red Cross personnel have been seen running several times to respond to people who need medical help, including two people who were on the ground, unresponsive, near the exit to the convention center. Officers pushed back evacuees and media as medics tended to them. Houston’s emergency operations center did not immediately return a phone message asking what had happened.

Over a loudspeaker, a person shouted in English and Spanish to leave space for first responders moving in and out of the cavernous convention hall.

The convention center exceeded its 5,000-person capacity earlier Monday night, and a Red Cross spokesman says volunteers may not have enough cots for everyone. Evacuees from Harvey continue to arrive.

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8:30 p.m.

Texas A&M University has dispatched more than two dozen members of its Veterinary Emergency Team to help care for pets that have been injured, abandoned or displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

A four-member team has been in Robstown, near where the hurricane made landfall late Friday.

Another 21 have been sent to nearby Aransas Pass.

The team has a medical platform, a refrigerated pharmacy truck, food, tents, generators and a trailer with a decontamination unit. The team is equipped and trained to treat all animals, big or small.

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8:05 p.m.

Having been turned into a shelter for Harvey evacuees, Houston’s downtown convention center has exceeded its expected capacity of 5,000 people.

American Red Cross spokesman Lloyd Ziel says around 5,500 evacuees have entered the George R. Brown Convention Center. More are still arriving as flooding in the Houston area grows and authorities continue water rescues.

Unless volunteers can find more than their current supply of 5,000 cots, some evacuees will have to sleep in chairs or on the floor.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters that other sites for a “major” shelter were being discussed, but officials hadn’t announced where they would be by Monday night.

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7:45 p.m.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says police have rescued 1,000 people in the last eight hours, bringing the total number of people rescued to 3,052 since Tropical Storm Harvey inundated many parts of Houston.

At a news conference Monday evening, Turner also said that at least 150 critical rescue requests were still pending.

The U.S. Coast Guard said that on Monday it had rescued more than 3,000 people by boat and air and that it is getting over 1,000 calls per hour.

Officials says that in Houston, more than 100,000 customers remain without power and that number remained steady on Monday as work crews have had difficulty getting into areas due to flooding.

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6:55 p.m.

Officials in Baytown, a refinery suburb east of Houston, are urging residents of two subdivisions along a rain-swollen bayou to put white towels or sheets on their windows to alert evacuation teams to rescue them.

Baytown spokeswoman Patti Jett says the 2,000 residents of Pinehurst and Whispering Pines subdivisions must be cleared out by nightfall, when non-life-threatening rescues will stop.

Jett says the sheets and towels in the windows will allow rescuers to better identify people they need to reach.

The neighborhoods border swift-flowing Cedar Bayou.

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6:30 p.m.

A Fort Bend County deputy and volunteers helped pull dozens of people trapped by flooding in their Sugar Land, Texas neighborhood to safety using a dump truck. People in the Village of Oak Lake subdivision trudged through knee-to-waist high water on West Airport Road to avoid being trapped.

Many of those rescued are now sheltering at Constellation Field, home to the unaffiliated minor baseball team the Sugar Land Skeeters. The team has welcomed people to stay inside until they can return to their homes.

The owners of baseball team, Marcie and Bob Zlotnik, say they offered to open up Constellation Field and Sugarland’s mayor accepted. Bob Zlotnik says: “We’re doing what we can to help people out.”

He says they have about 200 people staying there now and can hold 500 people.

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6 p.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is adding four East Texas counties to the 54 Southeast Texas counties already covered by his Hurricane Harvey disaster declaration.

The Republican on Monday added Angelina, Trinity, Sabine and Orange counties to the counties already declared disaster areas. The declaration makes it easier for the state to manage resources essential for search, rescue and relief.

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5:30 p.m.

A meteorologist has calculated that by the end of Wednesday Harvey will have saturated southeast Texas with enough water to fill all the NFL and Division 1 college football stadiums more than 100 times over.

Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics says that already 15 trillion gallons (57 trillion liters) of rain have fallen on a large area, and an additional 5 trillion (19 trillion liters) or 6 trillion gallons (23 trillion liters) are forecast by the end of Wednesday.

An Army Corps of Engineers official said Monday that Harvey is bringing amounts of rainfall seen only once in a thousand years.

Edmond Russo, a Corps deputy district engineer for Texas, made the comment at a Houston news conference Monday

Two dams — at Barker Reservoir and Addicks Reservoir — protecting downtown Houston and under the Corps’ management are built to withstand 1,000-year floods. Some levees in outlying areas are designed to protect against flooding that happens every 100 or 200 years.

Meteorologists say that sometime Tuesday or early Wednesday parts of the Houston region will break the nearly 40-year-old U.S. record for the biggest rainfall from a tropical system — 48 inches, set by Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978 in Texas.

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5 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Harvey has slightly increased in strength as it went back to warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

It now has sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph), up 5 mph (8 kph).

Forecasters expect Harvey to stay over water and at 45 mph (72 kph) for 36 hours and then head back inland east of Houston sometime Wednesday. The forecast has the storm then zipping north and losing its tropical storm strength and then its tropical characteristics.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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4:20 p.m.

Officials say the ongoing release of water from two flood-control reservoirs in the Houston area is not expected to increase the levels of a swollen bayou that runs through heavily populated neighborhoods in west and central Houston and through the city’s downtown.

Buffalo Bayou has swollen due to torrential rain from Harvey.

Jeff Lindner is a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District. He said Monday that levels on Buffalo Bayou have fallen from where they were Sunday. He says they’re holding steady despite the ongoing release of water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs in west Houston.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the controlled release into Buffalo Bayou is being done to relief pressure on the two aging reservoirs. The Corps says if the releases weren’t done, excess water could go over the reservoirs’ spillways and flood a large area.

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3:55 p.m.

Authorities say a woman has been killed in the Houston area when a large tree dislodged by heavy rains from Harvey toppled onto her trailer home.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Captain Bryan Carlisle says that the woman was killed around noon Monday in Porter. Her husband has reported that she was napping when the tree fell. Porter Fire Department firefighters had to wade through chest-level water to evacuate the woman’s husband, remove the tree and extract the body.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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3:25 p.m.

Volunteers have used a dump truck to rescue about 20 people from a flooded Houston-area neighborhood.

The rescue effort happened Monday after some residents of Sugar Land got a constable’s attention to say they needed help to escape the waist-deep water. The officer managed to arrange a private truck.

Several residents then used small rafts and air mattresses to float out to the vehicle. Children were handed from one person to another to be loaded into the back of the truck.

The truck then headed to dry land at a minor league baseball park that’s been opened up as a staging area for people to evacuate.

Volunteers on personal watercraft and in kayaks also helped evacuate people from the subdivision threatened by the fast-swelling Brazos River.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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3 p.m.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the city is working on opening another “major” shelter for people fleeing flooding from Harvey as the George S. Brown Convention Center reaches capacity.

Turner toured the convention center Monday, hugging evacuees and asking how they were doing. The convention center was already more than halfway to its 5,000-person capacity.

Turner said the city was considering its options for another major shelter, but did not say which buildings could be used.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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2:50 p.m.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is again praising the federal government’s response to Harvey.

Abbott said at a news conference in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Monday that he had spoken “on multiple occasions” to President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet.

Abbott said, “I would have to grade the federal government’s response as an A-plus.” He said the storm was “if not the largest, one of the largest disasters America has ever faced.” But he says, “to see the swift response from the federal government is pretty much unparalleled.”

Abbot expressed similar sentiments Sunday. It’s a departure for Abbott. He was elected governor in 2014 decrying federal “overreach” and boasting about using his former positon as Texas attorney general to sue the Obama administration nearly 30 times.

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2:40 p.m.

Officials are preparing to evacuate one of the nation’s busiest trauma centers as flooding from Harvey threatened to compromise the hospital’s supply of medicine and food.

A spokesman at Houston’s Office of Emergency Management said Monday that all 350 patients at Ben Taub Hospital would be evacuated, hopefully within a day. Floodwater and sewage got into the main hospital building’s basement and affected pharmacy, food service and other key operations. Patients will be sent to other area hospitals until repairs are made.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center also canceled outpatient services, appointments and surgeries at all Houston-area locations through Tuesday, and was asking patients not to attempt to travel because of high water in the Texas Medical Center area.

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2:35 p.m.

A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for a Southeast Texas city of about 20,000 that’s been inundated by Harvey floodwaters.

Dickinson police announced the city’s mandatory evacuation that took effect at 2 p.m. Monday.

Dickinson is a low-lying city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Houston. It’s along Dickinson Bayou. Crews on Sunday rescued more than 20 residents and staffers from an assisted-living center in Dickinson that flooded.

The police statement cited the fragile infrastructure in the city amid flooding, limited working utilities and concern for the forecast track of Harvey. Transportation was available for those needing help leaving Dickinson.

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2:30 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says its response to Hurricane Harvey is “quickly drawing down” the reserves in the agency’s disaster fund.

FEMA says it’s prioritizing its response to Harvey over earlier disasters to stretch the life of its disaster aid fund to make sure it doesn’t run out of money.

In a message to Capitol Hill, FEMA says it will only fund immediate emergency response “so that FEMA can continue its focus on response and urgent recovery efforts without interruption.”

FEMA’s most recent report says it has more than $3 billion in its disaster fund. About half of that was supposed to be spent to respond to earlier disasters, but Monday’s announcement frees up more of the money for responding to Harvey.

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2:10 p.m.

A television station is reporting that six family members are believed to have drowned in Houston when their van was swept away by floodwaters.

The KHOU-TV report was attributed to three family members the station didn’t identify. No bodies have been recovered.

Houston police Chief Art Acevedo tells The Associated Press he has no information about the KHOU report but added that he’s “really worried about how many bodies we’re going to find” from Harvey’s devastating flooding.

According to the station, four children — the youngest, a 6-year-old girl — and their grandparents are feared dead after the van hit high floods Sunday afternoon when crossing a bridge in Greens Bayou.

The driver of the vehicle, the children’s great-uncle, reportedly escaped before the van was submerged and grabbed onto a tree limb as the van sunk. He told the children inside to try to escape through the back door, but they were unable to get out.

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2 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush says he and former first lady Laura Bush are confident that communities hit by Harvey “will recover and thrive.”

Bush, who lives in Dallas, released a statement Monday that he and his wife are “proud of the people of Texas for showing the resilience and compassion of our state.” He says they’re “moved by the heroic work of the first responders and volunteers who are putting themselves at risk to save others.”

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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1:45 p.m.

Texas regulators say a 150,000-barrel (6.3 million gallon) fuel storage tank spilled an unspecified amount of gasoline east of Houston after tilting over due to large volumes of rain from Harvey.

The spill occurred at Kinder Morgan’s Pasadena Terminal on Saturday. Ramona Nye with the Texas Railroad Commission says the fuel was captured by a containment dike at the facility and fire-retardant foam was sprayed over it to prevent an ignition. Company representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

In a second incident, a fiberglass storage tank operated by Karbuhn Oil Company burst into fire after being hit by lightning early Sunday morning. Nye says an estimated 5 barrels (210 gallons) of oil was released.

Harvey made landfall in Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.

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1:35 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Harvey is drifting “erratically” back toward the Gulf Coast after having moved inland since making landfall late Friday.

An advisory Monday afternoon from the center says life-threatening flooding continues for Houston and the broader southeastern Texas region.

Harvey has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph). The center says it may slowly intensify as it moves closer to the coast.

Harvey is forecast to turn back toward the northeast at some point Tuesday.

An additional 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rainfall is forecast through Friday and the center says other threats include tornadoes and a coastal storm surge of 1 to 3 feet (0.3 meter to 0.91 meter) moving inland from the coast.

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1:10 p.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rates the two 70-year-old dams that protect Houston as among a handful of “extremely high risk” dams in the U.S.

Concerns include the way the two structures were built in the 1940s, and the threat to the people and property of the nation’s 4th-biggest city if they were to fail.

The Corps said Monday it was starting to release water from the two dams, called Addicks and Barker. The move would worsen flooding in some neighborhoods, but was necessary to prevent bigger, uncontrolled flows later, the Corps said in a statement.

The Houston dams are older than even the already high average age — 56 years — of dams in the United States. The Corps has acknowledged a long history of seepage through the dams. A $75 million fix to the two dams’ floodgates is slated for completion in 2019.

The Corps ‘”was confident that the structures continue to perform as they were designed to do,” it said in Monday’s statement.

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12:40 p.m.

Officials say Houston’s 911 system has received and processed 75,000 calls since Harvey inundated many parts of the city.

That includes nearly 20,000 calls just since 10 p.m. Sunday.

Joe Laud is the administration manager for the Houston Emergency Center. He said Monday that 911 operators have been able to reduce the backlog of calls they have, going from 120 to 250 calls in their queue to 10 to 15 calls.

He says that on average, the system usually get 8,000 or 9,000 calls per day.

Laud says officials have also initiated a voice activated system that lets callers know that the 911 system has received their call and that they should stay on the phone until someone comes on the line. Laud says some people were apparently hanging up because they didn’t think their call would be answered.

Harvey made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered just off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm.