Aussies helping out in epic Houston floods

Australia’s large expatriate community in flood-ravaged Houston has come together to help each other and the thousands of other residents forced to flee their homes.

The southern Texas city, the fourth biggest in the US, is largely under water after 124cm of rain from tropical storm Harvey fell – a record for the continental US.

Boats, rafts and helicopters continued to scour suburbs to save residents who tried to stay in their homes but were then left in life and death situations as flood levels rose.

Geelong-raised David Bryant, 41, who works for BHP Billiton in Houston and is president of the Houston Lonestars Aussie rules team, said Australians were opening their homes to others forced out of their houses.

“The Aussie community is spread out around so there is always a mate not too far away,” Mr Bryant said.

He was unaware of any members of the close-knit Aussie community forced to evacuate to one of the many shelters.

“The people who have had water go into their homes have been able to manage that in their house,” he said.

“It is not to the point where they have had to evacuate.”

Houston is America’s energy capital and the site of US offices for major Australian companies including BHP Billiton, Brambles, Lend Lease, Santos and Woodside.

Mr Bryant, whose wife Sonia is visiting family in Geelong, said luckily his three-storey townhouse near downtown Houston was not in the path of the floods and power went off on Monday but had been restored.

He has taken in a friend, his seven-month pregnant fiancee and their cats.

The roads in the area were safe enough on Tuesday for Mr Bryant and the couple to drive a few kilometres to George R. Brown Convention Center, the Houston area’s largest shelter, to help the Red Cross.

They have been distributing blankets food and other aid to the 10,000 soaked Houston evacuees inside the massive complex.

“It’s basically as if the Melbourne Convention Centre was opened up. It’s on that scale,” Mr Bryant said.

“It’s a pretty big operation.”

Rain from the slow moving tropical storm Harvey is expected to fall for the rest of the week and it will take years for the city to recover.

Local officials have so far reported at least nine deaths.

Neighbouring state Louisiana is also being hit hard.

The US National Guard is preparing to deploy 20,000 to 30,000 troops to Texas to aid the response and recovery effort.

US president Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flew to Texas on Tuesday, but will visit Corpus Christi and Austin and stay away from Houston to ensure the focus of authorities was on the rescue effort.

“We want to do it better than ever before,” Mr Trump, describing his planned response to the hurricane, said.

“We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it.

“This was of epic proportion. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

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