Authorities found a shivering toddler clinging to the body of her drowned mother in a rain-swollen canal in Southeast Texas after the woman tried to carry her child to safety from Harvey’s floods.
Capt. Brad Penisson of the fire-rescue department in Beaumont said the woman’s vehicle got stuck Tuesday afternoon in the flooded parking lot of an office park just off Interstate 10. Squalls from Harvey were pounding Beaumont with up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain an hour at the time with 38 mph (60 kph) gusts, according to the National Weather Service.
Penisson said a witness saw the woman take her 18-month-old daughter and try to walk to safety when the swift current of a flooded drainage canal next to the parking lot swept them both away.
The child was holding onto the floating woman when a police and fire-rescue team in a boat caught up to them a half-mile downstream, he said. Rescuers pulled them into the boat just before they would have gone under a railroad trestle where the water was so high that the boat could not have followed.
First responders lifted the child from her mother’s body and tried to revive the woman, but she never regained consciousness.
Penisson said the child was in stable condition at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital.
The identities of the mother and child were being withheld until the father, who was out of town, can be notified.
At least 18 people have been killed by Harvey since Friday, when it made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. Harvey has since weakened to a tropical storm.