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Schools close in Houston area after storms drench area

HOUSTON (AP) — Schools shut down Friday around flood-prone Houston after an overnight storm dumped heavy rainfall on the nation's fourth-largest city, though forecasters said the high waters were expected to recede as the storms let up.

The National Weather Service said most areas saw about 1 to 3 inches of rain late Thursday and early Friday, with some places getting 3 to 6 inches of rain during that time period. Forecasters said a lull in rainfall was expected Friday, but the area braced for another round of storms late Friday and early Saturday.

About 37,000 customers of CenterPoint Energy were without power late Friday morning. The storms pelted the Houston area with golf-ball sized hail and flooded streets, leading to several high-water rescues. Although the dome was up at Minute Maid Park, some fans at the Houston Astros' Thursday night game were drenched after the roof began leaking.

The Harris County Flood Control District said early Friday that many bayous and creeks had crested and the water level was beginning to fall. Police in Katy, Texas, reported finding an alligator washing up near railroad tracks in town. The police turned the gator over to a game warden.

A flood warning was in effect for Houston through mid-morning Friday. In parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, forecasters warned that scattered flash flooding was possible as the storm heads to the east.

Houston has repeatedly faced flooding in recent years because the city has insufficient drainage and experienced rapid development that reduced wetlands. Many areas hit by rain this week were evacuated during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which flooded more than 150,000 homes in the Houston area and caused an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas.

"I'm tired of being wet," said Jennifer Wilson, a homeowner who had just finished rebuilding after Harvey, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle . Wilson's home in Porter, Texas, had almost 2 feet (0.6 meters) of water inside on Tuesday afternoon. It had taken the family four months after Harvey to replace their carpet, and Wilson had started thinking about remodeling her daughter's room.

She partly blamed the new homes that had been built around her neighborhood for reducing the open land that water could otherwise flow. "You're building everything up, so the water's going to go to all the subdivisions around you that are lower because it doesn't have anywhere to go," Wilson said.

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