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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Harvey deaths rise, victims face struggles

Meteorologists expect what is left of Harvey to break up and merge with other weather systems late on Saturday or Sunday

In this September 1, 2017 file photo, a woman waits with others in line for donated goods from a makeshift distribution centre set up among the cubicles of an office in Pasadena, Texas. Gregory Bull / The Associated Press
In this September 1, 2017 file photo, a woman waits with others in line for donated goods from a makeshift distribution centre set up among the cubicles of an office in Pasadena, Texas. Gregory Bull / The Associated Press

Nine days after Harvey roared into Texas, the death toll has risen and victims are trying to balance struggles from the storm with challenges they already were facing.

Meteorologists expect what is left of Harvey to break up and merge with other weather systems late on Saturday or Sunday. The storm system still has rain — but not much more than moderate rain, National Weather Service meteorologist David Roth said.

Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on August 25 in Texas, then went back out to sea and lingered off the coast as a tropical storm for days. The storm brought five straight days of rain totalling close to 1.3 metres in one location, the heaviest tropical downpour ever recorded in the continental US.

Harvey is blamed for at least 44 deaths. The latest is a man found floating in Cypress Creek floodwaters. His death brings the total in Harris County, which includes Houston, to 29.

Texas has started burying its dead. In Tyler, family and friends gathered on Saturday to remember a former high school football and track coach whose body was found on Monday.

In the community of New Waverly, about 88.5 kilometres north of Houston, fire officials said a six-month-old baby is missing and presumed dead after being ripped out of its parents' arms and swept away by floodwaters, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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Read more:

Houston's Muslims spend Eid helping Harvey victims

Wear a mask: dangers lurk even after floods recede in Houston

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Auto industry experts estimate 500,000 to 1 million cars, trucks and SUVs were damaged by Harvey floodwaters. They say most cannot be fixed and insurance companies will declare them total losses.

Many people whose homes were flooded by Harvey say they were dealing with personal issues before it hit and that the storm only made things worse.

Candis Cortez was still coping with her husband's death from cancer last year when Harvey struck. The 46-year-old scaffold builder at a chemical plant said she moved her spouse's ashes to a top shelf of a closet and prayed it did not cave in. She still struggles to pay for the funeral. She feels even more vulnerable after Harvey.

Samantha Cusson, 31, is pregnant with her third child, her rent is already overdue and she wonders when the Subway shop she works at will reopen. But she does not want her children to see her worrying.

"I can't show it," she said. "They're fine because I'm fine."