Houston mayor confirms police officer drowned

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Houston police Sgt. Steve Perez 082917_392780

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed that police Sgt. Steve Perez has died after he became trapped in his patrol car as he was driving to work.

The Houston Chronicle has reported that the 34-year veteran of the force was heading to work Sunday when he became trapped in high water on Interstate 45 in north Harris County and then couldn’t get himself out of his car.

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Harvey, a Category 4 Hurricane when it slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast late last week, has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but is still dumping rain on Houston, which is experiencing what the National Weather Service has called “unprecedented” flooding.

Weather forecasters expect Harvey to come ashore somewhere near Louisiana’s southwestern corner, following its trip through Texas and return to the Gulf.

National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Erickson said Tuesday that officials project a landfall in Cameron Parish around midday Wednesday. Erickson says another 4 to 8 inches of rain is likely across southwest Louisiana.

Forecasters also project heavy rain running east from New Orleans to Pensacola along the Gulf Coast.

Harvey is expected to bring gusts up to 45 mph in coastal areas and gusts of up to 35 mph in Lake Charles and along the Interstate 10 corridor.

Erickson warns that some coastal rivers won’t be able to drain rains effectively because Harvey’s winds are pushing storm surge into coastal waters, aggravating flooding in places that have already received more than 20 inches of rain.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña says his agency has responded to more than 1,000 calls for service — including 400 water rescues — since Harvey inundated much of the city.

Peña says some fire department crews have been working for three days straight, without a break, and he has implemented procedures to ensure firefighters get the nourishment and rest they need.

Peña says it has been difficult to get in fresh crews to replace firefighters at some locations because in many areas, “we can’t get in and out of the fire stations” due to flooding. “We can’t deploy them to where we need them with their equipment.”

Peña says the fire department is managing the resources it has on hand and will rotate in fresh firefighter crews as it is able to do so.

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