Child found clinging to dead mother amid disastrous floods in Texas

PHOTO: Residents wait to be rescued from the flood waters of Tropical Storm Harvey in Beaumont Place, Texas, Aug. 28, 2017. PlayJonathan Bachman/Reuters
WATCH Harrowing stories of survival, recovery after Hurricane Harvey

A young child was rescued in Beaumont on Tuesday after she was found clinging to her unresponsive mother in the floodwaters that have devastated the southeastern Texas city, officials said.

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The mother was traveling with her young daughter when their car got stuck on a service road in high water, according to the Beaumont Police Department. She escaped the car with her child but was swept into a canal and floated about a half-mile from her vehicle, police said.

Slideshow: Gulf Coast residents struggle to recover after Hurricane Harvey
SLIDESHOW: Slideshow: Gulf Coast residents struggle to recover after Hurricane Harvey

First responders traveling in an inflatable boat spotted the woman floating with the small child, who was holding on to her mother. The officers got to the mother and child just before they floated under a trestle. The woman was unresponsive but her young daughter was alive though suffering from hypothermia, police said.

The mother was later pronounced dead. The child is in stable condition, according to the Beaumont Police Department, which is withholding their names at this time.

Days after Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, the Beaumont-Port Arthur metropolitan area saw a record-shattering 26 or more inches of rainfall on Tuesday alone, unleashing treacherous torrents on the community, located some 85 miles east of Houston.

"Overnight, the areas of Beaumont and Port Arthur got hit," FEMA Administrator Brock Long said at a press conference Wednesday morning. "While we've focused a lot of effort on Houston, we have to understand there are over 50 counties impacted right now."

Harvey, now a tropical storm, made landfall again just west of Cameron, Louisiana, Wednesday at 4 a.m. local time, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service. The storm has led to at least 19 deaths, all in Texas, over the past four days.

A flash flood emergency for the cities of Beaumont and Port Arthur was extended until 4:30 p.m. local time Wednesday. While the threat of heavy rains has ended in Houston, the NWS said, "catastrophic and life-threatening flooding" will continue in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area for the rest of the week.

The largest oil refinery in the United States is shutting down due to the devastating floods in Port Arthur. Motiva announced in a statement early Wednesday that it began a "controlled shutdown of the Port Arthur refinery in response to increasing local flood conditions." The refinery won't reopen until flood waters recede, Motiva said.

Meanwhile, officials were forced to evacuate the shelter at the Bob Bower Civic Center in Port Arthur on Wednesday morning after it began to fill with water.

One witness, who was forced to relocate, said some areas of the civic center had almost 4 feet of water inside. Displaced residents were taken to a secondary evacuation site at the Carl Parker Center, according to ABC affiliate KBMT.

In a Facebook post early Wednesday, Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman frantically urged residents to get to higher ground.

"Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!" Freeman wrote in one post. "Please get to higher ground if you can, but please try to stay out of attics."

Take part in Disney's Day of Giving: To support people impacted by Hurricane Harvey, call 1-855-999-GIVE, donate at www.RedCross.org/ABC or text "HARVEY" to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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