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Rescuers start house-by-house search of flooded Houston

Staff Writer | August 31, 2017
Rescuers began a house-by-house search of tens of thousands of Houston homes Thursday.
Harvey Houston house
Weather   Harvey heavily damaged more than 37,000 homes
They are pounding on doors and shouting as they looked for anyone who might have been left behind in Harvey's fetid floodwaters.

Harvey heavily damaged more than 37,000 homes and destroyed nearly 7,000 statewide.

More than 200 firefighters, police officers and members of an urban search-and-rescue team fanned out across the Meyerland neighborhood for survivors or bodies.

They yelled "fire department!" as they pounded with closed fists on doors, peered through windows and checked with neighbors. The streets were dry but heaped with soggy furniture, carpet and wood.

"We don't think we're going to find any humans, but we're prepared if we do," said District Chief James Pennington of the Houston Fire Department.

The confirmed death toll stood at 31, though it is expected to rise. But by midday, the temporary command center in a J.C. Penney parking lot had received no reports of more bodies from the searches, which are expected to take up to two weeks.

Unlike during Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in New Orleans, crews used GPS devices to log the homes they checked rather than spray painting neon X's on the homes, which also avoided alerting potential thieves to vacant homes.