As officials watched waters recede late Thursday, tow truck drivers removed 200 of the vehicles that were in the roadways and waited to remove hundreds more, Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
Many of the bayous or creeks were returning to normal, officials said at a nighttime news conference. The San Jacinto River wasn’t and is expected to crest around 5 a.m. CT.
“Things are starting to improve,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. But there were concerns for neighborhoods along the river and near Lake Houston, where a torrent of rain fell as Imelda — a tropical storm that weakened to a tropical depression — passed over.
At least one death is storm related, officials said. A man who was in a van that drove into deep water Thursday died.
He was in his 40s or 50s and was one of at least three people extracted from a submerged van, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
The driver of the van was approaching a freeway when he paused briefly, then drove into water that was 8 feet deep, causing the van to submerge, Gonzalez said.
Recent developments include:
• The Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that it had received calls for 387 water rescues.
• Flight arrivals at Houston Bush Airport will resume at 4 a.m. Friday, officials tweeted. One entrance to the airport is closed because of flooding.
• The Houston city government will be open Friday, but area public schools will not be.
Desperation in Beaumont and elsewhere
“The situation here is turning worse by the minute,” Michael Stephens, trapped by floodwaters at an apartment complex in the nearby city of Vidor, told CNN Thursday.
“People have snakes in their apartments from the creek. … (We) also have elderly disabled people stuck in their apartments.”
In Beaumont, ankle-deep water had collected in the lobby of the Elegante Hotel, and more was coming in, video recorded by Lupe Torres on Thursday showed.
Drivers trapped on I-10 near Winnie
In the community of Winnie — between Houston and Beaumont — floodwaters intruded onto Interstate 10 and surface streets Thursday morning, trapping motorists on the highway and surrounding businesses. A photo on social media showed a truck almost submerged near a hotel.
Steve Castle told CNN floodwaters had him stuck in his truck on I-10 early Thursday.
“I was supposed to be driving back to Houston. I don’t think I’m going anywhere soon,” Castle said from his truck.
In Spring, north of Houston, Edward and his wife were returning home from after dropping their nephew at his house after school when they saw some ranchers, horses and passersby struggling in the floodwaters.
The couple pulled over and noticed everyone in the water was fighting to get the horses out, and in the process, one man was swept into the bushes by the current. Once the group was able to get the horses out safely, they went back in for the man and pulled him out as well.
Both the horses and people were all rescued.
More rain to come Thursday
The storm is in East Texas and slowly moving northeast. Flash flood watches are in effect Thursday more millions of people across East Texas and western Louisiana.
In Louisiana, the storm could bring 3 to 5 more inches of rain — with isolated amounts as high as 10 inches — on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
Comparing rainfall from Harvey and Imelda
Imelda is causing some of the most serious flooding in southeastern Texas since Hurricane Harvey, which created major problems in August 2017.
Generally, Harvey, which claimed dozens of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage, dropped more rain than Imelda.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Amanda Jackson, Hollie Silverman, Alisha Ebrahimji, Paul P. Murphy, Konstantin Toropin, Camila Bernal, Nicole Chavez and Judson Jones contributed to this report.