Hundreds rescued as flooding overwhelms Houston roadways

Buffalo Bayou is several feet above normal after overflowing its banks early Tuesday

HOUSTON -- Torrential rains sent Houston bayous out of their banks overnight, damaging thousands of homes and buildings stranding thousands of drivers.

Houston firefighters report they've been called to more than 500 water-related rescues.

At least three people have drowned.

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a disaster declaration for Harris County.

The hardest hit areas, city officials said, appear to be around Meyerland and Braeswood, the Brays Bayou area of southwest Houston. More than nine inches of rain was reported there.

Another area pounded with more than eight inches of rain was on the westside at Beltway 8 and the Katy Freeway. Some drivers were stuck in that area overnight because of high water.

Buffalo Bayou, just west of downtown, also spilled out of its banks.

Most of Houston's major roadways into town were flooded or jammed with stalled vehicles.

There's just no telling how many cars, trucks and other vehicles have been abandoned on the streets of Houston.

If one of them is yours, the mayor says you should check this website – -- or call 713-308-8580.

By late morning, water was receding in some areas but not everywhere.

Mayor Annise Parker urged everyone to stay home, if possible.

"I want to urge folks not to go sightseeing," Parker said. "If you can stay home, please stay home."

Parker said thousands of structures were damaged by floodwaters.

"We believe there may be as many as 4,000 with significant damage," she said.

Views from Houston TranStar showed hundreds of drivers stalled out on the frontage roads along the Katy Freeway. Others were stuck on the mainlanes of the Southwest Freeway near Dunlavy and on I-45 N at North Main.

Several area schools closed or started late.

Several businesses also closed for the day.

The Galleria didn't plan to open until noon because of flooding in the parking garages. They said some cars took on water.

The mayor said the MetroRail lines would start running again around 10:30 a.m. and most buses are up and running.

Weather: Click here for the forecast and current conditions

For a list of road closures from Houston TranStar click here.

As of 3 p.m. Monday CenterPoint Energy reported 36,000 people were without power. Click here for CenterPoint's power outage tracker.

Shelters have been set up at the Chinese Community Center at 9800 Town Park Dr. and the Acres Home Multi-Service Center at 6719 W. Montgomery Road.

Stay updated on the weather by checking KHOU 11 News local radars.

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