Hundreds of cars abandoned in Houston after drivers couldn’t get through floodwaters

Hundreds of cars were left on Houston freeways Thursday as flooding made the highways and many other roads impassable.

As officials watched waters recede late Thursday, tow truck drivers removed 200 of the vehicles that were in the roadways and waited to remove hundreds more, Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

Many of the bayous or creeks were returning to normal, officials said at a nighttime news conference. The San Jacinto River wasn’t and is expected to crest around 5 a.m. CT.

“Things are starting to improve,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. But there were concerns for neighborhoods along the river and near Lake Houston, where a torrent of rain fell as Imelda — a tropical storm that weakened to a tropical depression — passed over.

At least one death is storm related, officials said. A man who was in a van that drove into deep water Thursday died.

He was in his 40s or 50s and was one of at least three people extracted from a submerged van, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

The driver of the van was approaching a freeway when he paused briefly, then drove into water that was 8 feet deep, causing the van to submerge, Gonzalez said.

The storm brought intense rain to southeastern Texas over three days. Some areas have received more than 30 inches, and one spot in Jefferson County got 43.15 inches, according to the National Weather Service office in Houston.

Recent developments include:

• The Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that it had received calls for 387 water rescues.

• Flight arrivals at Houston Bush Airport will resume at 4 a.m. Friday, officials tweeted. One entrance to the airport is closed because of flooding.

• The Houston city government will be open Friday, but area public schools will not be.

Desperation in Beaumont and elsewhere

In the Beaumont area of Jefferson County, some neighborhoods looked like lakes Thursday.