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Harvey flooding
Patrick Tobias carries a bag of items from his apartment building flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, in Kingwood, Texas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Harvey’s death toll rose as flood waters receded from Houston



Texas authorities raised the death toll stemming from Tropical Depression Harvey to about 39 people.

Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences spokeswoman Tricia Bentley said Thursday her office had confirmed seven more deaths related to the former hurricane. Bentley said earlier Thursday that the county’s morgue was close to capacity as bodies began piling up from causes both related and unrelated to Harvey. She added later that the morgue’s backlog had eased somewhat as funeral homes began picking up remains.

Harris County hosts Houston, which is America’s fourth largest city and one of the areas hardest hit by Harvey once it made landfall a week ago.

President Trump announced plans to return to the region on Saturday.

Digital Globe, meanwhile, created photo comparisons of Texas population centers including Brookshire, Crosby, Simonton and more before and after Harvey struck the region.

Twitter users on Friday also voiced sadness over Harvey, which battered the Texas coast and parts of Louisiana most of last week.

Officials say, however, that flood waters will likely have vanished from Houston and the surrounding county by late Friday or early Saturday.

Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District, said Harvey had left 70 percent of the county’s landmass underwater. Harris County is approximately 1,300 square miles, he continued, and Harvey submerged most of it under a foot and a half of water.

Lindner also said that Harvey also flooded about 136,000 structures in Harris County, or 10 percent of all the structures listed in its database. The meteorologist noted that Houston’s Addicks and Barker reservoirs will take roughly three or four months to drain their watershed of about 35 to 40 inches of rain from Harvey.

Harvey reached the U.S. one week ago as a Category 4 hurricane and began pounding the Texas coast before striking portions of Louisiana as well.

The storm has emerged as the first major natural disaster of President Trump’s administration after it began in January. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday said Trump plans to donate $1 million to Harvey victims but had not yet finalized which group the money would benefit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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