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The Brief: Fatal Floods in Southeast Texas

The Houston area is grappling with devastating floods that have been blamed for at least five deaths, and Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a disaster declaration for nine counties in the state.

Heavy rains caused widespread flooding in Houston on April 18, 2016. Here, the Buffalo Bayou is close to washing out Studemont Street near downtown Houston.

The Big Conversation

The Houston area is grappling with devastating floods that have been blamed for at least five deaths, and Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a disaster declaration for nine counties in the state.

The Houston Chronicle’s Mike Morris, Mihir Zaveri and Mike Tolson reported Monday that area residents “were confronted by power outages, submerged and dangerous roadways, overloaded bayous, and flooded homes, some recently rebuilt after last year's Memorial Day deluge.”

Authorities said that five people drowned as a result of the storm. Abbott made a disaster declaration for nine counties: Harris, Bastrop, Colorado, Fort Bend, Grimes, Montgomery, Waller, Wharton and Austin.

The declaration allows local officials to implement state emergency-assistance plans and order curfews, if necessary, if the heavy rains continue through Tuesday, the Chronicle reported. Pending a detailed damage assessment, a federal disaster declaration is expected in a few days.

“Some areas of Houston had well over a foot of rain in 24 hours," Abbott said. "That's the most I have ever seen."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that there were 10 to 15 inches of rainfall in some parts of the city.

"I don't think anyone expected the rainfall to come as soon as it did and persist as long as it did,” he said, according to the Chronicle.

Turner acknowledged that the event was difficult to forecast but said that city officials would not have prepared any differently than they did.

Trib Must Reads

Urban Woes Regularly Spill Onto UT Campus, by Jordan Rudner, Lauren Flannery and Terri Langford — A review of more than three months of UT-Austin police logs shows campus police routinely dealing with traffic issues, drug crimes and homeless people unrelated to the university.

Years Later, Benefits from State Subsidy to Chevron Hard to Find, by Jim Malewitz — Texas announced in 2013 it was giving Chevron millions of dollars toward building a new office tower and creating 1,752 jobs. More than two years later, the site of the building remains a grassy lot and Chevron has laid off hundreds of workers.

As College Costs Rise, Texas Schools Open Food Pantries for Students, by Matthew Watkins — As tuition costs rise and the number of low-income students increases, at least 14 Texas colleges have opened food pantries for students who are having trouble affording meals.

With New Pump Stickers, Miller Boosts Profile, Dings Lawmakers, by Terri Langford and Morgan Smith — A new sticker for the state's gas pumps comes with a few additional flourishes: Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's name emblazoned across the top and a disclaimer blaming gas taxes on Congress and the Texas Legislature.

Texas Tells High Court State Has Right to Stop Immigration Action, by Julián Aguilar — Though both Texas and the Obama Administration seemed confident in the way they made their arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the controversial DAPA case, the court's decision is unpredictable.

On Eve of Primary, Ted Cruz Looks Beyond New York, by Abby Livingston — A day before the New York Republican primary, where Donald Trump is expected to dominate, Ted Cruz was stumping in Maryland, ready for the next round of contests.

The Day Ahead

•    The House Appropriations Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol extension. Lawmakers will hear invited testimony about the policy challenges and possible economic disruptions in the 2016-17 biennium.

•    Voters in New York head to the polls today to cast their ballots in the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.


Texas Muslims slam Sen. Ted Cruz and staff for refusing to meet with them, The Dallas Morning News 

Supreme Court Appears Divided on Obama’s Immigration Plan, The New York Times

Texas, Arizona high schools dominate new U.S. News rankings, The Washington Post

Pastor Sues Whole Foods Over Cake Iced With Anti-Gay Slur, Texas Observer

Cruz tries to lock up Texas delegates as he battles Trump in N.Y. primary, San Antonio Express-News

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declares state of emergency in nine counties, The Dallas Morning News 

Case before high court has deep ties to Rio Grande Valley, McAllen Monitor

Texas Tech regents OK campus carry policy, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Psychiatrist in infamous East Texas widow murder: Bernie Tiede snapped after years of abuse, The Dallas Morning News

Cruz: Contested convention could 'fracture' GOP, Politico

RNC struggles to control fight over Trump, convention rules, The Hill

Austin has failed to collect administrative fee from Lyft and Uber, Austin American-Statesman 

Romney: Trump will win if both Cruz and Kasich stay in, Politico

Quote to Note

“If you want to be president, you’re going to have to deal with things far more complicated than Republican delegate rules.”

— Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney dismissing Donald Trump’s complaint that the Republican Party’s delegate-selection process is rigged against him.

Today in TribTalk

Symptoms of a shattered foster care system, by Katherine Barillas — The Child Protective Services-related stories that have been in the news lately are symptoms of a broken system. The deaths of children and the poor outcomes of foster youth are the result of more than just overworked caseworkers. 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Dawn Buckingham on April 21 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation on San Antonio & the Legislature: The Issues in the Interim on April 26 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston

•    The Texas Tribune's third Texas-centric Trivia Night on May 1 at The Highball in Austin

•    A Conversation on Mental Health Matters on May 10 at KLRU Studio 6A in Austin

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