HOUSTON, Texas (AP) _ Drivers abandoned their cars on flooded freeways as torrential rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Allison deluged southeast Texas and coastal Louisiana, flooding areas that had escaped the brunt of the storm when it swept ashore earlier this week.
At least 200 people were evacuated from flooded homes Friday night in Houston, and dozens of cars were stranded on flooded freeways.
``The biggest problem is on the streets of our city. I-10 is like a parking lot. No one is moving,'' Houston Mayor Lee Brown said at a news conference just after midnight at a command center. He said many of the streets he had tried to take to reach the command center were blocked.
No serious injuries were reported, but emergency dispatchers fielded more than 850 calls for help late Friday, and nearly every major freeway in the city was blocked by flooding.
More than a dozen southeast Texas counties were under flash flood warnings as rain pelted saturated ground and overwhelmed sewer systems.
Montgomery County Sheriff Guy Williams said at least a foot of rain had fallen just north of Houston since 4 p.m. Firefighters in boats were rescuing people from the hoods of stranded vehicles and a voluntary evacuation was under way.
Seven inches of rain had fallen in a three-hour period Friday in the suburbs east of Houston, the National Weather Service said.
``We're so saturated right now, the only place to go is up,'' said Frank Gutierrez, of Harris County Office of Emergency Management.
In Freeport, 60 miles south of Houston, underpasses were flooded. In Palestine, halfway between Houston and Dallas, an office building partially collapsed from rainfall; no one was injured.
According to the Southwestern Insurance Information Service, private insurers were expecting more than $65 million in damage claims in southeast Texas from the storm, and the figure didn't count damage to hundreds of flooded homes.
In Louisiana, Gov. Mike Foster declared emergencies in 11 southern parishes that have seen nearly 2 feet of rain this week. Baton Rouge, the state capital, reported more than 16 inches of rain since the storm began.
On Friday, Man Ton, 61, used a break in the rain and an inflatable mattress to float valuables from his family's apartment to a car parked at the top of the street. ``This is the worst flood I've seen,'' he told The Advocate of Baton Rouge.
``People are getting water in areas that haven't flooded in a generation and a half,'' said Ray Chidester, director of the Livingston Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness.
He said more than 200 homes in his parish, just east of Baton Rouge, were flooded.
In Lafayette, La., 50 miles west of Baton Rouge, the Vermilion River spilled over its banks and flooded streets as it crested about 4 feet over flood stage. Officials also were watching the state's flood-prone Trinity River and Luce Bayou near Huffman, both expected to exceed their banks during the weekend.
Allison formed as a Tropical Storm off the Texas coast Tuesday and quickly swept ashore. It had tropical storm force for less than 24 hours, but its remnants have been stalled over southeast Texas and Louisiana.