Emergency systems in Houston overwhelmed by calls for help

HOUSTON — On so many levels, the deluge of rain Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey unleashed is matched by a deluge of need in the flood zone, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports from Houston. 

FEMA estimates 30,000 evacuees in the city could need shelter within a couple days. 

CBS News learned there were nearly 5,000 people inside Houston’s convention center — serving as the largest evacuation shelter — by Monday. That’s almost full capacity, with many more days of catastrophic flooding ahead.

Some Houston flood survivors left rooftops in a basket on Monday, as 20 Coast Guard helicopters plucked more than 300 Harvey victims to safety. But officials admit there aren’t enough helicopters, boats or high-water vehicles to reach everyone. 

Emergency systems were overwhelmed. By Monday morning, 75,000 had called 911 desperate for help. 

Mike Hawthorne, a captain with the Houston Fire Department, said volunteers with boats and trucks have been lifesavers.

“I know of yesterday, we pulled 76 people to dry land,” Hawthorne said. “The need is overwhelming. We, as a city entity, and government have resources but we don’t have enough. It is neighbor helping neighbor.”

Many were tweeting for help in real time. Civilian rescuers were checking social media sites for locations of people in distress.
A group evacuees arrived at shelters by a dump truck battered by the elements, their future uncertain. But they were grateful to get out alive.

“We were happy because it was more than my waist — the water,” one man said.

On Sunday, 4,500 people had crowded Houston’s major shelter: its downtown convention center — and more on Monday kept coming.  

Among them was Kanesha Brown, a mother of two. Many like her wish they had been given more warning.

“We was waiting. We called, like, all the numbers. We couldn’t get…

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