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Southeast Texas Cleans Up After Tropical Storm Imelda

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Houston and the rest of southeast Texas are now drying out after days of near-record rainfall. The remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda dumped several feet of rain in some places. It caused widespread flooding and several deaths. Houston Public Media's Gail Delaughter reports that residents are now second-guessing the decisions officials made before the storm.

GAIL DELAUGHTER, BYLINE: When Houston parents send their kids to school yesterday, they thought it would just be another day of heavy rainfall - nothing too unusual for the region. But by lunchtime, the rain really started to come down. Streets and freeways flooded, trapping people wherever they were. Video showed some young students walking on benches to avoid the water inside one school. Sixth grade teacher Daniel Santos says what made the situation even worse was that a lot of his students went through Hurricane Harvey just a couple of years ago.

DANIEL SANTOS: Many of the students were feeling anxious. They could not focus in my class. It was just an all-around day that could have been avoided.

DELAUGHTER: The school district held classes despite forecast for flooding. The district issued a statement saying it followed proper protocols when it opened schools, which included conference calls with local officials. But some students say that's not enough. Sixteen-year-old Erin Smart is a 10th grader at a magnet school in Houston.

ERIN SMART: That gives them clarity and comfort. But when weather gets this bad and we've had experiences like Harvey, people want more security and to know more about what's going to happen.

DELAUGHTER: The flooding has subsided on many roads around the region, and traffic is getting back to normal but not on Interstate 10, just east of Houston. Some barges got loose and crashed into a bridge, and it's creating a traffic headache. Danny Perez with the Texas Department of Transportation says they're not really sure when they'll be able to reopen the interstate.

DANNY PEREZ: Obviously, there's some damage that's visible to the eye, but it's - there's some things we have to do, including getting some divers and some other specialized equipment there to make sure we do a thorough inspection.

DELAUGHTER: Even as the heaviest rain stopped overnight, thunderstorms popped back up this afternoon, adding more water to already saturated streams, bayous and rivers.

For NPR News, I'm Gail Delaughter in Houston.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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