The Latest: Conditions in Houston improve as Imelda departs

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A flooded out car is stranded in high water off U.S. 59 as rain from Tropical Depression Imelda inundated the area on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, near Spendora, Texas. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

Houston officials say floodwaters are receding across most of the city and efforts will continue through the night to clear the city’s freeways of hundreds of vehicles stalled by the flooding.

The dangerous flooding all but paralyzed the city Thursday after the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda reversed course and hit Houston and Southeast Texas a second time.

Two people died Thursday. They both drowned.

Mayor Sylvester Turner praised residents for heeding appeals to remain at their workplaces and schools for three to four hours Thursday afternoon until the worst of the flooding ceased.

City officials say flights were operating at Hobby Airport almost normally. Outgoing flights continued at Bush Intercontinental Airport, which has been closed to incoming traffic until early Friday morning.

Transit buses resumed operations Thursday evening. The Houston school district canceled all Friday classes.

Officials say the San Jacinto River in eastern Houston and eastern Montgomery County was expected to rise another foot before cresting around daybreak Friday.

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8:05 p.m.

Authorities say floodwaters from rain unleashed by the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda have left a man dead near Houston.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says the driver of a van — a man in his 40s or 50s — approached a flooded intersection at U.S. 59 near Bush Intercontinental Airport during the Thursday afternoon rush hour. Despite floodwaters that were 8 feet deep, the driver paused briefly and then accelerated into the water, submerging the van.

Rescue crews came to the scene, removed the man and began resuscitation efforts en route to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Gonzalez says it’s not yet certain that he was the only occupant of the van.

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6:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service says Imelda is the seventh-wettest tropical cyclone to strike the 48 contiguous United States on record.

Meteorologist Michael Marcotte of the weather service office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, says Imelda is also the fourth-wettest to strike Texas on record. He cited information provided on Thursday by the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Office in College Park, Maryland.

The National Weather Service has allowed flash flood warnings to expire for the Houston area, replacing them with a flash flood watch. That’s after reporting a 9.18-inch official rainfall reading for Thursday at Bush Intercontinental Airport. That is a record daily rainfall for September in Houston and ranks fifth all-time.

The heaviest rain unleashed on Houston by Hurricane Harvey was 16.07 inches on Aug. 27, 2017, the second day it rained on the city.

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5:05 p.m.

Authorities say a 19-year-old Southeast Texas man has drowned in floodwaters caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page reposted a message from the family of Hunter Morrison, saying he was trying to move his horse from floodwaters to safety Thursday when he was electrocuted and drowned 11 miles (18 kilometers) southwest of Beaumont.

The death was reported about 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Crystal Holmes says an autopsy won’t be performed to establish the cause of death for several days because of the storm.

Meanwhile, Houston officials are appealing to afternoon commuters to remain in their offices and off city roads until flood waters from torrential rains recede.

Mayor Sylvester Turner made a similar appeal to the parents of school children in flood-affected areas of the city.

City emergency officials say hundreds of vehicles are stalled on Houston freeways and roads blocked by high water. Officials appealed to motorists and residents to call 911 only if their lives were in danger, not if they were inconvenienced.

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2:55 p.m.

Departures have resumed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston to partly lift an hours-long ground stop enacted amid heavy rain and flooding that led to more than 900 flights being canceled or delayed.

Airport spokeswoman Saba Abashawl (SAH’-buh AB’-uh-shawl) said outbound flights resumed by Thursday afternoon but no incoming planes were allowed to land. Officials tweeted that roads approaching the airport, located in the northern part of Houston, remained flooded.

The flight tracking service FlightAware reported nearly 700 flights canceled Thursday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, with more than 200 other flights delayed.

Thursday’s storms are blamed on remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda.

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2:40 p.m.

Authorities say three people sustained minor injuries when the flat roof of a post office facility in Houston collapsed amid heavy rains.

The Houston Fire Department was responding to the scene Thursday morning. Fire officials said the collapse happened in a mail distribution area.

Fire officials said the building was occupied but “everyone made it out.”

Photos and video from the scene showed that part of the roof was caved in and part of an outside wall had fallen into a parking area, damaging at least one vehicle.

Fire officials did not immediately say what they believe caused the collapse.

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1:50 p.m.

Officials in Houston say there have been more than 1,000 rescues and evacuations because of rising waters caused by the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo says the rescues and evacuations caused by the flooding were in the eastern part of the county. A flash flood emergency for the area will remain in effect until 3 p.m. Thursday.

Officials are urging the public to stay off the roads.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says among those rescued were nine children and employees from a daycare center that had taken on water in Aldine, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Houston.

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12:30 p.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott has declared 13 counties disaster areas after heavy rain and flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda swamped parts of Southeast Texas.

Abbott on Thursday announced the disaster declaration for Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange and San Jacinto counties.

The National Weather Service says most of Southeast Texas was under a flash flood watch through Friday morning.

Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne says emergency personnel completed more than 300 high-water rescues Thursdin the town of Winnie, located 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Houston. Hawthorne had no reports of anyone hurt.

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11:40 a.m.

Part of a busy interstate in Texas is shut down because of flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda, stranding some drivers on the roadway.

Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Sarah Dupre says officials do not know exactly how many people are stranded in their cars on Interstate 10, which is shut down from Beaumont to Winnie. Dupre says the department is currently working with local law enforcement on a plan to get those people off the roadway.

Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne says the sheriff’s office is focusing on high water rescues in Winnie and neighboring Stowell.

Hawthorne says some residents are up on their roofs because of rising floodwaters.

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11:30 a.m.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled or delayed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston due to heavy rain and flooding in Southeast Texas.

Airport officials reported a full ground stop Thursday morning, meaning no flights landing or departing, with flooding on some roads leading to the airport in far north Houston.

The flight tracking service FlightAware reported nearly 200 flights canceled Thursday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, with more than 300 other flights delayed.

Airport spokeswoman Saba Abashawl (SAH’-buh AB’-uh-shawl) said some inbound flights were diverted to William P. Hobby Airport, on the south side of Houston.

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10:20 a.m.

Heavy rainfall from the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda is hitting the north Houston area, prompting forecasters to issue a flash flood emergency warning.

The National Weather Service says thunderstorms could drop 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 centimeters) of rain per hour through midday Thursday in parts of Harris County, where Houston is located. The weather service says flash flooding is expected to follow.

The National Hurricane Center says the center of Imelda was located about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Houston as of 10 a.m. Thursday. The hurricane center says the storm system could cause isolated rainfall totals of up to 40 inches (100 centimeters) this week in parts of southeast Texas.

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9:20 a.m.

Authorities say emergency workers have rescued about 200 people from a small Texas town hit hard by flooding from Tropical Depression Imelda.

Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne says about 50 additional households were on a waiting list to be rescued Thursday in the town of Winnie, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Houston. He says airboats from the sheriff’s office and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department were helping with the rescues, along with high-water vehicles.

Hawthorne told The Associated Press that the town “looks like a lake.” He says it’s the worst storm-related flooding he’s seen after going through hurricanes including Rita in 2005, Ike in 2008, and Harvey two years ago.

In Beaumont, police said on Twitter that they’ve had requests for more than 250 water rescues and 270 evacuations.

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7 a.m.

The storm system associated with Tropical Depression Imelda is bringing severe weather to parts of Texas already hit by dangerous flooding.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning Thursday morning for Chambers County, including the town of Winnie, where a flash flood emergency warning is also in place.

Forecasters said a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was moving through the area at 15 mph (24 kph).

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6:22 a.m.

A flash flood emergency warning is in effect for areas east of Houston as Tropical Depression Imelda dumps rainfall on parts of Texas.

Authorities say high-water rescues are underway in some areas because of rising water.

In the town of Winnie, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Houston, a hospital was evacuated and water is inundating several homes and businesses. The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office says Winnie is “being devastated by rising water” and that water rescues are ongoing.

Flooding is also reported in Beaumont, where authorities say all service roads are impassable. Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick tells the Beaumont Enterprise that homes that did not flood during Hurricane Harvey are now flooding.

The National Weather Service says “life-threatening amounts of rainfall” have fallen and that more is expected in the area Thursday.

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12:01 a.m.

Officials in Houston and surrounding communities say so far there have been no severe consequences as Tropical Depression Imelda deluged parts of Southeast Texas with rain.

The storm’s remnants spawned several weak tornadoes in the Baytown area, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Houston, causing minor damage to some homes and vehicles.

Forecasters say the Houston area could still face some heavy rainfall on Thursday.

Coastal counties, including Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston, got the most rainfall since Imelda formed on Tuesday. Some parts of the Houston area had received nearly 8 inches (203 millimeters) of rain, while the city of Galveston had received nearly 9 inches (229 millimeters).

Sargent, a town of about 2,700 residents in Matagorda County, had received nearly 20 inches (508 millimeters) of rain since Tuesday.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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