Imelda leaves at least 5 dead in Texas, many more stranded after historic rainfall

By Briana Zamora-Nipper - Community Associate Producer
Texas Parks and Wildlife

Texas Game Wardens from Beaumont to Conroe are currently participating in over 300 water-related rescues.

HOUSTON - Imelda, now dubbed one of the wettest tropical storms in United States history, dumped more than 43 inches of rain in some areas of southeast Texas. The storm led to the deaths of at least five people and stranded hundreds more.

As the remnants of Imelda moved north Friday, residents in Houston and southeastern Texas were left to deal with Imelda's aftermath, which drew comparisons to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

Abandoned flooded and stalled vehicles littered roadways throughout the region. Houston police said more than 1,651 vehicles had already been removed from city roadways as of Friday morning.

Nine barges broke free from their moorings Friday morning. Two of those barges collided with the I-10 bridge at San Jacinto River. The heavily trafficked bridge is closed indefinitely.  Authorities with the Texas Department of Transportation said high floodwaters made it impossible to inspect the bridge for damage.

More than 900 flights were canceled or delayed in Houston Thursday.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office tweeted Friday afternoon that it had fielded 1,125 weather-related calls since Imelda began. HCSO also said it had conducted 425 high-water rescues.

Officials in Harris County said there had been a combination of at least 1,700 high-waster rescues following Imelda's deluge of rain.

Imelda led to the deaths of at least five people. 

On Thursday, Hunter Morrison, a 19-year-old man, drowned after being electrocuted while trying to move his horse to safety during a lightning storm, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. 

Another man drowned Thursday when he tried to drive his van through 8-foot-deep floodwaters near George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

Friday morning, the body of 52-year-old Rene Salas was found in a drainage ditch north of Houston, Gonzalez said. Investigators said it's likely the man drowned while walking home.

Grim discoveries in Beaumont bought the total number of Imelda-related deaths to at least five.

Friday morning, Texas Task Force 1 found Malcolm Foster, a 47-year-old man, dead inside a Toyota Prius in a canal in Beaumont, the city said in a statement.

Rescuers also found the body of 52-year-old Mark Dukaj in his pickup truck, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. The vehicle was stalled on I-10 about three miles outside of Beaumont. 

Imelda's aftermath stranded many more southeastern Texas residents. Rescue efforts continue throughout the region.

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