So far 38 people have been confirmed dead in Hurricane Harvey.
More than 48,000 homes have also been destroyed
But the final death toll will be much higher with residents being warned to “get out or die” as waters in a nearby reservoir rise in an east Texas county.
Harvey continues to move northeast towards Louisiana, bringing more rain and floods as people continue to evacuate and fill already overcrowded shelters.
Officials in Tyler County, where river levels were expected to rise to 82ft, told residents bleakly that if they did not leave, their chances of rescue were slim.
“Anyone who chooses not to heed this directive cannot expect to be rescued and should write their social security numbers in permanent marker on their arm so their bodies can be identified.
“The loss of life and property is certain. Get out or die!” an ominous late night post on the county’s emergency department’s Facebook page read on Wednesday.
Reports also say there have been two explosions at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, which flooded earlier in the week, releasing toxic substances in to the area. No fewer than 15 police officers have been hospitalised due to the effect of the substances.
Harvey – which has now been downgraded to a Tropical Depression – has moved out of Texas and is gradually crawling up and out of Louisiana.
In Tyler County, an area north of Beaumont with around 20,000 residents, rivers swelled to 82 feet. The Army Corps of Engineers had no choice on Tuesday but to open floodgates near homes to try to manage the flow of water.
The failure of water plants in Beaumont has left the entire city without running water. This means there is nothing to drink if supplies of bottled water dwindle.
More water is expected to rush down on Houston from the Barker reservoir which is on the verge of overflowing. A mandatory evacuation order was issued late on Tuesday for people living near the dam. Many at-risk neighborhoods in its periphery have already been abandoned.
Despite the fact that Harvey has been downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression, the National Hurricane Center warned of continuing flooding in parts of southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
“I’m worried about how many bodies we’re going to find,” Houston Police Chief, Art Acevedo, said on Tuesday as he mourned the loss of one of his own officers who drowned trying to get to work.