As rain continues to pour down in parts of southern Texas and calls to emergency services overwhelm first responders, officials are turning to Texas boat owners for help.
Houston Police have put out calls on Twitter asking anyone with a boat to help rescue people who have been trapped in their homes.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett joined in the call for help Sunday, Aug. 27, saying that the additional boats and vehicles the state is sending to the Houston area are not able to get to there due to flooded roadways, The Associated Press reported.
Houston is in Harris County.
Authorities said Monday that eight people have died in Hurricane-turned-tropical storm Harvey that has swept through southern Texas, The Washington Post reported. Eighteen Texas counties are currently on the federal disaster declaration list.
The National Weather Service reported that some parts of Texas have seen 40 inches of rain, and some areas could get up to 20 inches more.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has asked people not to call for help unless their life is endangered because emergency service lines are extremely backed up.
“911 services at capacity. If u can shelter in place do so, a few inches in your home is not imminent danger. Only call if in imminent danger,” the city of Houston tweeted.
People have taken to social media to ask for help, and private citizens have organized into rescue teams to complement the efforts of emergency services. A citizen group calling itself the Cajun Navy that was formed after Hurricane Katrina has sprung into action.
The Sheriff’s Office has asked anyone awaiting rescue to hang a towel or a sheet from a door or window so rescuers can easily spot people.
“Every time I see Texans challenged, I’m always impressed to see the way that we respond,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference on Monday. “To see the way that our fellow Texans would take out their own boats and go rescue stranded Houstonians who otherwise could have drowned. There are so many heroes in Houston who literally saved the lives of their fellow Texans.”