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Transportation remains at a standstill following Hurricane Harvey

Interstate 45 is submerged from the rainfall from Hurricane Harvey in Houston. (Richard Carson/Reuters)
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The catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey and continued rainfall has most modes of transportation in Houston and a larger region of the state at a standstill Monday.

The Federal Aviation Administration warned Monday that the tropical storm that once was Hurricane Harvey continues to dump rain on the region and Houston’s two hub airports “are expected to stay closed to the public until Wednesday.”

The shutdown of George Bush Intercontinental Airport and the William P. Hobby Airport will have a ripple effect throughout much of the nation’s aviation system, causing backups and re-routing of flights that normally pass through the two hubs.

A map of state highway conditions show road closures because of flooding all along the Texas coastal area from Corpus Christi to the Louisiana state line. Some roads, many in the Houston area, aren’t expected to reopen until later in the week, according to state estimates.

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Transportation officials on Monday were urging residents to stay off the roads as major freeways remain impassable. In the Yoakum district, officials announced a few roads reopening Monday morning, as crews continued clearing debris in the areas of Victoria and Calhoun counties. In the Corpus Christi district, crews began replacing traffic signals damaged by the storm Sunday, and continued to work on major roads throughout the coastal area.

The Houston Metro’s bus system, three light-rail lines, and paratransit services will all remain closed until at least the end of Monday, with no word yet on when the system would begin to reopen. In a statement, Metro officials said the service is shuttered in light of “catastrophic flooding and treacherous road conditions,” and they will monitor the situation to determine when it will be safe to begin running service again.

“There is a high likelihood additional suspensions, delays and detours of METRO service will occur until the inclement weather has passed,” the transit agency said in a statement.

The Port of Houston will also be closed all day Monday.

“We will be continuing to monitor the developing weather conditions to determine whether operations can safely resume on Tuesday,” the Port of Houston Authority said.

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In Galveston, the Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry, which had been suspended since Friday evening, began running limited service Monday. Officials said service, which takes travelers between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, would run depending on the weather conditions.

Officials said they had crews ready to resume service as early as Saturday but that the tide was still too high to operate the ferry. The free ferry provided by the Texas Department of Transportation carries more than 8 million people each year.

Despite the delays in reopening, the Houston airports will begin to see traffic on their runways even as the rest of the region struggles to find its footing. The two airports had a record 1.9 million passengers pass through security last month. But that number is just a fraction of an overall passenger load that includes thousands of daily travelers who change planes en-route elsewhere.

More than 900 people were stranded at the two airports when flights were suspended Sunday, and with airport roads flooded they had nowhere to go.

Meanwhile, the small municipal airfield at Galveston was open Monday. Runways at Scholes International Airport at Galveston are clear, the pavement in good condition and the Air Traffic Control Tower is staffed, said Mike Shahan, the airport director.

So far Monday, there had been no operations, he said. The small airport does not have a commercial air service. The airport did not receive any damage to date, Shahan said.

The FAA also warned unauthorized drone operators that they may be subject to “significant fines” if they interfere with emergency response operations in the Houston region. “Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances,” the FAA said.