HOUSTON, United States, May 26 – Torrential rain left large parts of Houston submerged Tuesday and trapped fans at an NBA basketball game, in savage weather that has killed nearly 20 people in the United States and Mexico.
The southern US states of Texas and Oklahoma, and northern Mexico, have borne the brunt of several days of wild weather, including tornadoes, which have left scores dead, missing and injured on both sides of the border.
More than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of heavy rain fell in just a few hours in the Texas city of Houston, triggering the worst flooding there in at least a decade and stranding at an arena a Houston Rockets player and spectators who had gone to see the basketball team Monday night.
Hundreds of vehicles, some fully under water, were abandoned on Houston’s roads. Some people were trapped in their cars, others marooned in their homes.
Two people died overnight in the flooding in the city, Mayor Annise Parker said, with the toll expected to rise.
“I want to ask and urge people to continue to be safe and recognize that we may have more rain later today,” she said, encouraging people to stay at home in America’s fourth-largest city by population.
“We have cars littered all over the city,” she told a press conference, adding that emergency crews were attempting to reach the abandoned vehicles to see if anyone had been trapped inside.
Downtown Houston, where the Toyota Center arena is located, was not under water, said Parker, but about 200 fans had been unable to get home from the NBA game for several hours after the deluge.
At least one Rockets player, center Dwight Howard, was also among those stranded into the night after learning of the treacherous road conditions.
“There’s no need to try to push it,” the Houston Chronicle reported him as saying.
“I don’t think it’s smart for anybody to try to be out in this weather.”
President Barack Obama called the flooding in Texas “terrible” and said he had offered urgent assistance to state Governor Greg Abbott.