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Storm-hit Houston strains from influx of evacuees, crime outbreak

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A lawn ornament is seen on a flooded street during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. Harvey has set what forecasters believe is a new rainfall record for the continental US. 

HOUSTON - Houston strained under the arrival of tens of thousands of people fleeing submerged homes and flooded roads on Wednesday, while some incidents of looting and armed robberies forced a midnight curfew.

City officials prepared to vote to allocate $20 million to storm relief, said city Controller Chris Brown. “Houston will have enough money to handle this storm,” he vowed.

City and regional officials showed signs of tension after working nonstop for a week or more on storm preparations and response. The storm that hit shore on Friday near Corpus Christi, Texas, was the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years. It has killed at least 17 people and forced 30,000 people to flee to emergency shelters. Damage has been estimated at tens of billions of dollars.

The surge in evacuees has been stressing resources in the fourth-largest U.S. city. More than 3,000 Houston homes were underwater and thousands more were threatened by two reservoirs swollen by as much as 52 inches (132 cm) of rain in some areas.

Officials ordered evacuations in several areas around levees or dams, but opted not to call for a mass evacuation, which could have led to chaos during the storm.

As Tropical Storm Harvey began to dump rain and cause flooding, the city opened the George R. Brown Convention Center last weekend. It planned to house 5,000 people, operating with the help of American Red Cross volunteers and others. The center’s population quickly grew to double that capacity, as people streamed in from areas south and west of Houston.

Officials opened two more “mega” centers late Tuesday at the Toyota Center, home of the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets, and NRG Park, part of the complex that hosted the 2017 Super Bowl.

As police responded to scattered incidents of looting and armed robberies, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner ordered a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said would-be looters impersonating police officers knocked on doors in at least two parts of the city telling residents to evacuate their homes.

“There’s still some significant threats out there,” Acevedo told a special session of the Houston City Council on Wednesday.

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Muslim Global: Storm-hit Houston strains from influx of evacuees, crime outbreak
Storm-hit Houston strains from influx of evacuees, crime outbreak
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