LAKE CHARLES, La./HOUSTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – The tropical storm that devastated Texas’ Gulf Coast spread to neighboring Louisiana on Wednesday, while the U.S. energy hub of Houston remained paralyzed by a record rainfall that also drove tens of thousands of people from their homes.
Slow-moving Tropical Storm Harvey has killed at least 20 people and sent 30,000 to shelters since coming ashore on Friday near Corpus Christi, Texas, as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years. On Wednesday it went on to swamp a stretch of coast from Port Arthur, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Harvey was forecast to drop another 3 to 6 inches (7.5 cm) of rain on Wednesday, with a storm surge of up to 4 feet (1.2 m) along the western part of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. The floods shut the nation’s largest oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, in the latest hit to U.S. energy infrastructure that has sent gasoline prices climbing.
As many as 10 inches (25 cm) of rain were expected in places, according to the National Weather Service.
Moody’s Analytics is estimating the economic cost from Harvey for southeast Texas at $51 billion to $75 billion, ranking it among the costliest storms in U.S. history.
About 300 people who had fled their homes around Lake Charles packed into a civic center that served as an emergency shelter.
The shelter was bracing for about 1,500 people rescued from floods by the U.S. Coast Guard, said Angela Jouett, who is running the shelter. The newcomers would represent almost double the shelter’s capacity of 800 beds, she said.
One shelter resident, Edward Lewis, 54, said he awoke from a deep sleep on Monday night in his home in Lake Charles, swung his legs out of bed and landed in ankle-deep water. He flagged down a passing rescue boat and spent the rest of the night at a church before being taken on a city transit bus to the Lake Charles civic center on Tuesday.
“No one has said when we can go home,” he said.