As devastating floods continue across Houston and along the Texas coast, rescue teams have brought hope, heroism and much-needed relief to the stranded.
But help came too late for some. At least 25 people are confirmed to have died after Hurricane Harvey hit the region with catastrophic rainfall, and that toll is expected to rise.
On Wednesday afternoon, authorities in Harris County confirmed that six members of the Saldivar family, including four children, died when their van was swept away by floodwaters. The van was flooded on Sunday, with one known survivor, but the vehicle's whereabouts were unknown for several days.
On Sunday morning, sheriff's deputies were conducting evacuations when "at a distance, they could hear somebody screaming," Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says. "They spotted a man clinging to a tree. They were able to use a rope and really performed a heroic effort in getting him out."
That man said six family members — his parents and four of their great-grandchildren — were trapped inside a van that had submerged beneath the water.
It was several days before water levels dropped enough for authorities to locate the van. On Wednesday, divers found the bodies of all six of the missing members of the Saldivar family; a man and woman in their 80s and four children. The oldest child was 16 and the youngest was 6.
The death of the family was a tragedy that left officers shaken, Gonzalez says. "It was a miracle the one driver was rescued," he said.
Alexander Kwoksum Sung, 64, drowned inside his clock repair business, according to Harris County officials and The Associated Press.
He had repaired clocks in South Houston for decades.
Sung's daughter Alicia Contreras told The Washington Post that she spoke to her dad over the phone during the early days of the storm. He had been checking in repeatedly to make sure she and her sister were safe, the Post reports. But Sung himself was at his business, Accu-Tyme, frantically trying to move customers' clocks to higher shelves. "Sweetie, I'll have to call you back," he said. He texted a few minutes later, telling her he loved her.
That was Saturday night. His body was found in the flooded shop on Sunday.
Sgt. Steve Albert Perez, 60, was a Houston police officer who died trying to get to work on Sunday morning.
NPR's Richard Gonzalez reported on Perez's death:
"In a somber news conference Tuesday afternoon, Police Chief Art Acevedo said Perez's wife, Cheryl, had asked her husband not to report to work Sunday morning. But Perez, who had been on the police force for 34 years and was just a few days short of his 61st birthday, insisted on going in.
" 'Unfortunately in the darkness, Sgt. Perez drove into an underpass that's about 16 1/2 feet, drove into the water and he died in a drowning-type event,' said Acevedo, his eyes moistening.
" 'Steve is one of the sweetest people in this department and I've been here only nine months. We have 6,500 employees and I knew who Steve Perez was because he was a sweet, gentle public servant.'
"Perez's father-in-law, a Korean War combat veteran, also told him not to go because the conditions were so bad. 'And his response was, "We've got work to do," ' said Acevedo."
Agnes Stanley, 89, died inside her residence in Houston on Sunday. Her body was found floating in 4 feet of water inside the home.
Lisa Jones, 60, was killed when a tree fell on her mobile home in Porter.
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office described the heartbreaking circumstances: Jones and her husband were inside their home on Monday when she went to take a nap in their bedroom. Then the tree fell, its waterlogged roots no longer able to hold it up. Photos show that the trunk nearly flattened the trailer where it hit.
"The homeowner screamed for his wife," the sheriff's office reports. "The elderly male was unable to get to her or get her to respond."
He went for help. When police arrived, they found Jones dead in the bedroom.
Travis Lynn Callihan, 45, died after he fell in floodwaters. Callihan was driving on Monday and left his vehicle, authorities say. He later died in a Harris County hospital.
Colette Sulcer and her young daughter were driving in Beaumont when their vehicle was stuck in high water. Sulcer got out of the car and was swept away by water, her child clinging to her.
They floated a half-mile before being spotted by a police and fire department rescue team in a boat.
"The first responders got to the mother and child just before they went under a trestle," a support for a bridge or elevated road, the Beaumont Police Department said on Facebook. Water had risen to the level of the trestle; the rescue team reached the mother and child just in time to keep them from being swept under.
Sulcer was unresponsive when rescue crews reached her, and the child was suffering from hypothermia. Waters were too high for an ambulance to reach the area, so a citizen with a truck helped transport the mother, daughter and first responders — who were performing CPR — through flooded streets to the ambulance.
The mother died, but her daughter survived and is now in stable condition.
An as-yet-unnamed woman, 76, was found floating in high water beside her vehicle in Houston.
Late Wednesday, Harris County authorities announced seven more deaths, including:
- Three unidentified persons
- Jorge Raul Perez, 33, and Yahi Rubio-Vizuet, 45, both found floating in floodwater
- Andrew Pasek, 25, who stepped on a submerged live electrical wire
- Ronald Zaring, 82, whose death was attributed to heart disease, pneumonia and the flood.
In Rockport, one unnamed person died on Friday or Saturday in a house fire during the storm, the Aransas County judge says. Rescue crews were unable to reach the house in time.
In Galveston County, three people have drowned, authorities say.