Two Indian students enrolled at a university in Texas were in an intensive care unit after tropical storm Harvey pummelled and flooded the state since Friday, with 200 others marooned at another university being moved to a safer place, according to Indian officials in the US.
Efforts were on to ensure relatives of the hospitalised Texas A&M University students — identified as Shalini and Nikhil Bhatia — were able to reach them at the earliest. They had gone swimming and were overwhelmed by the rapidly rising water level on Sunday, officials said.
Those marooned were at the University of Houston. Their apartments on the university campus had been submerged in neck-deep water. The water level has since receded, and they are safe.
“At this point things are fine,” an office-bearer of the Organization of Indian Student at the University of Houston said. “Water near the apartment have drained. University police have been speaking to all the students to make sure everyone is safe.”
A team of Indian diplomats was on its way to A&M University by road, while those marooned were being evacuated with the help of officials led by university president Renu Khator — an Indian American — and local authorities, according to consul general in Houston Anupam Ray.
The students had reached out for help to Ray — himself stranded at home with his family — via a Facebook post on Sunday. Efforts were made to rescue them and reach food to them, but US coast guards needed boats for rescue work.
“They are being evacuated today,” Ray told Hindustan Times over the phone on Monday, adding that he planned to reach them later in the day. He said Khator was personally supervising efforts to rescue the Indian students and local Indian Americans had helped with food supplies.
The staff of the Indian mission in Houston had also been impacted by the flood. Some of them have taken shelter with their families at the consulate, and Ray said water had entered his home forcing him and the family to move to a higher floor in their house.
“But no one at the mission or in our families is hurt,” he said.
At least five people have died because of the storm that made landfall on the gulf coast of Texas on Friday as a category 4 hurricane. Despite being downgraded as a “tropical storm”, Harvey has flooded thousands of homes and businesses and has caused such havoc that it is drawing comparisons to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which claimed more than 1,800 lives.
The official twitter account of the National Weather Service posted: “This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced. Follow orders from officials to ensure safety. #Harvey
“Flood concerns are still growing with heavy rain spreading into parts of (the adjoining state of) Louisiana.”
President Donald Trump plans to tour affected areas on Tuesday.