Grim search for victims begins: Death toll set to rise above 38 as rescuers find bodies floating in water and go door-to-door looking for trapped residents in the wake of the Harvey’s destruction

Thursday, August 31, 2017
By Paul Martin

Houston Fire Department Chief Terry Garrison said his mission had changed from rescue to recovery
Fire fighters are going ‘block to block, door to door’ to recover the bodies of the dead and any survivors
The official total death toll of 38 is likely to soar as recovery crews start looking for victims of the storm
Harvey is still raining terror on Beaumont in east Texas where some residents have been told to evacuate
The entire city – which has a population of 118,000 – has been left without running water because of the floods
Two explosions at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Houston put 15 police officers in the hospital on Tuesday
Harvey will barrel on to Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky with heavy rain before dissipating on Friday
To donate to the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief fund, click here or call 1-800-435-7669

By Jennifer Smith and Ann Schmidt
31 August 2017

Texan fire fighters are now going door-to-door in a grim search for survivors and victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Flood waters have receded enough in Houston for the recovery mission to begin, six days after the hurricane first made landfall, and there are increasing sightings of bodies floating in the flood water in Beaumont.

The official death toll across the entire Gulf Coast region is currently 38 but it is likely to become exponentially higher as the bodies of the dead are recovered.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said previously that he feared how many bodies his officers would find. His bleak outlook was echoed by Fire Department Chief Terry Garrison at a press conference late on Tuesday night.

‘We’re going to start transitioning from a rescue mode to more of recovery operation. We’re going to be going block to block, door to door, to search structures which we believe have had 3ft or greater of water to ensure that there are no people we have left behind,’ he said.

As Houston prepared to face the hurricane’s grisly aftermath, there was still imminent danger and panic in other parts of Texas and the Gulf Coast.

In east Texas, the entire city of Beaumont is now without running water. Residents in some parts of Tyler County, which has a population of around 20,000 which sits to the north of the city, were told to ‘get out or die’ on Wednesday night as rivers overflowed, triggering yet more floods.

Anyone who chose to stay behind was told to write their social security number on their arm so that emergency services would later be able to identify their body.

There was also fresh danger in Harris County in Houston after two explosions at a chemical plant. Fifteen police officers were taken to hospital for treatment after being exposed to the harmful substances which were released from Arkema Inc. Plant as a result of the blasts.

Harvey has almost cleared out of Texas and is making its way over Louisiana in the less severe form of a tropical depression. By Friday night, it will creep up in a northwest diagonal direction over Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, bringing heavy not not life-threatening rain.

More than 48,000 homes have been destroyed by the storm and there are now 32,000 people in shelters across Texas.

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