HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner addressed critics who claimed he should have ordered evacuations for some Houston neighborhoods before Hurricane Harvey slammed the area with torrential rains.
"You literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road. If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare," Turner said.
Turner said the city learned a lesson the last time an evacuation order was issued.
"It has to be coordinated," he said. "If it's not done right, you are putting people in harm's way and creating a far worse situation.
"This is unprecedented. Every neighborhood, every community received water and flooded. Every bayou went over its banks."
Turner said city officials anticipated heavy rain, but said, "The best place is for people to be in their homes."
Three to 4 inches of rain an hour overnight would lead to flooding, Turner said, and there's not many places to go.
"For those homes that are flooded, we'll come in to rescue them," he said.
He recommended going to neighbors' homes for help.
Turner said the mayors of several Texas cities, including San Antonio and Dallas, reached out to offer assistance with the recovery efforts.
He also thanked first responders for their efforts during the storm.
"This is a storm that is testing the city of Houston. This is a storm that I know for a fact that the city of Houston will rise to the occasion," he said. "If we all work together...we will get through this."
"If we remain calm, and if everybody does his or her part, we will get through this with minimum loss of life, and this city will get right back on track and we'll move right forward," Turner said.