Mayor says Houston is ‘open for business’ as waters recede

HOUSTON -- The water in Houston is slowly receding, although in outlying areas people are finding it could be a long while before they can return to their homes. Houston's mayor cautiously called the city 'open for business' Sunday, but it's a tough sell in the neighborhoods that line the river.

Every day, friends and neighbors have been launching anything that floats into the swollen Buffalo Bayou, a tiny river along which Houston was built. This is the first time the bayou's overflowed in this area. They're still towing cars out of the floodwater, using trucks that have come from all over.

In other areas, debris is piling up as it is hauled out of flooded homes, soaked in filthy water. Lines are still long for bottled water and supplies. Still, the city's mayor says life is quickly returning to normal, saying over 95% is now dry. Neighbors work together, loaning boats and canoes, pulling together like nobody ever has.

Sunday night the City of Houston said some areas could stay flooded for another two weeks, maybe longer, as it drains a pair of reservoirs. Homeowners worry that their foundations will not withstand that kind of drenching, and that their houses will eventually have to come down.

But flooded homes and buildings aren't the only problem. Experts say it's possible up to one million cars were damaged by flood waters. State Farm says it's already gotten nearly 20,000 claims from the Houston area. Most of the cars will be a total loss.

Cars damaged beyond repair will typically end up in salvage yards, and working parts probably will be salvaged and sold. However, if you're looking to buy a car, be careful: some water- damaged cars can end up in other parts of the country. You should search for the car's history using service like Autocheck or Carfax. Also, check for flood damage, like a moldy smell or discolored carpeting.

The death toll from Harvey has reached at least 44 after the medical examiner in the county that includes Houston confirmed another fatality.

The latest death is a man who was found floating in Cypress Creek floodwaters. The addition to a list kept by the Harris County Institute for Forensic Sciences brings the total deaths in the county to 29.

Also, the Houston Chronicle reports that fire officials in the community of New Waverly, about 55 miles north of Houston, say a 6-month-old baby is missing and presumed dead after being ripped out of its parents' arms and swept away by floodwaters.