'Howdy, Modi!' event in jeopardy? Cyclone Imelda pummels Texas

Texas [US]: Torrential rains and flash floods caused by tropical depression Imelda has pummeled Houston causing havoc and perhaps putting in jeopardy the mega Hody Modi! where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to address over 50,000 from the Indian community here.

The George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) was shut, CNN reported and authorities said flight operations for arrivals will resume on Friday, according to a tweet. Media persons and others who were on their way to attend the mega event have shared information about flights being delayed and cancelled. "Our flight to Houston has been cancelled," said an Indian journalist who was travelling from New Delhi to Houston and was in transit at Doha.

The Bush airport is asking people who were planning to pick up passengers to "delay" their plans due to flooding on the roads approaching the airport. "Roads approaching the airport are flooded if you have to pick someone up from the airport right now, delay your drive," the IAH said in a tweet. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster in 13 counties impacted by remnants of Imelda. The storm, which had been churning over Houston on Wednesday, slammed the area around Beaumont, Texas, overnight and throughout the day Thursday, adding to rainfall totals that are among the highest the region has faced since Hurricane Harvey in 2017, New York Times reported.

According to weather reports, the storm could drop 5 to 10 more inches of rain on the Upper Texas Coast region Thursday, bringing three-day totals to as high as 25 to 35 inches in some places. The Houston Health Department is warning people to stay out of floodwaters to avoid health hazards. The Space Center Houston also announced it is closing at 1 p.m. local time.

Heavy rains lashed Houston city in Texas halting the normal life as Tropical Depression Imelda churned over the area on Wednesday (local time). This comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled address to the Indian community in Houston on September 22. The remnants of Tropical Rainstorm Imelda has also disrupted the operation at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston city.

The New York Times quoted Scott Overpeck, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Houston/Galveston office, as saying that Houston's not seeing a lot of the heavy rainfall that it could be seeing. "Higher rainfall amounts may hold off till overnight as the system moves north," said Overpeck. The Weather Prediction Centre said that the storm, which was slowly moving northeast through the eastern Texas region, was expected to bring rainfall of five to 10 inches through Friday (local time), and could deliver 20 to 25 inches to some places while adding that the rainfall could result in significant to life-threatening flash floods.

"Takeaway message this morning is we're about 24 hours or halfway through this 48-hour event," said Jeff Lindner, director of the Flood Control District for Harris County. George Bush Intercontinental Airport which was giving regular updates about the situation of the airport on its Twitter handle, in its tweet said, "No parking lots operated by airport have flooded. That includes the garages and eco-park."In an earlier tweet, it advised people to delay their plans to pick-up passengers from the airport.

"Roads approaching the airport are flooded if you have to pick someone up from the airport right now, delay your drive. The airport is open, we have power and restaurants are open, so your passenger will be ok," the airport said in its tweet. Earlier in the day, the airport had announced a full ground stop. "Due to weather in the area, the airport is at a full ground stop. Will update soon," it said.The White House had confirmed that the US President Donald Trump will be making a joint appearance with Prime Minister Modi at the "Howdy Modi" event in Houston.

The mega event is believed to be one of the largest events to welcome a foreign head of government ever in the history of the United States. It will mark the first time that the two leaders would meet outside of either capital Washington DC or New York, where the United Nations is headquartered. Over 50,000 people have already been registered for the event, which will be hosted by the Texas India Forum. Moreover, the fact that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the second-highest-ranking Democrat, will also address the gathering, further reflects the strong bipartisan support for the relationship between the two countries.

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