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Flights Cancelled, Airport Flooded, Roads Submerged: Houston Weather Update Ahead of PM's 'Howdy Modi'

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of emergency for 13 counties after tropical Depression Imelda slammed the state on Thursday.


Updated:September 20, 2019, 5:37 PM IST
Flights Cancelled, Airport Flooded, Roads Submerged: Houston Weather Update Ahead of PM's 'Howdy Modi'
A screengrab from a CNN video.

Houston: The stage is all set for the mega "Howdy Modi" event in which President Donald Trump will join Prime Minister Narendra Modi where they will address over 50,000 Indian-Americans, but the torrential rains triggered by a tropical storm have wreaked havoc in Houston, killing two persons.

Tropical Depression Imelda slammed Texas on Thursday, causing devastating flooding, power outages and prompting urgent rescues and warnings across southeastern Texas for people to stay indoors. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of emergency for 13 counties in southeastern Texas.

Two persons were killed on Thursday. One was electrocuted and drowned while trying to move his horse and another man drowned after driving his van into floodwaters and submerged, according to sheriff's office.

However, the volunteers of the "Howdy Modi" event are upbeat and confident that all the attendees at the sprawling NRG stadium in Houston will have an experience they will cherish all their lives.

Leading volunteer Achalesh Amar said over 1,500 volunteers have been working round the clock to make the event a grand success "We are going to have a fantastic programme on Sunday," he said.

The mammoth event reflects the growing size, power and complexity of the Indian-American community, both in the Houston area and the US, he said.

Trump, along with a number of high-ranking US government officials - including governors, members of Congress and mayors - will join Prime Minister Modi to attend the "Howdy Modi!" event on Sunday.

"This is going to be a kind of family celebration. We want to say, ''Look at our community here! We are successful. We are strong. We have done good things for Houston!'' We would like Modi to know all of this," organisers said.

Swapan Dhairyawan, president of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH), said he has witnessed how Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner''s visit to India in November 2018 enhanced the bilateral trade.

Dhairyawan said he was confident Modi''s visit to Houston and his meeting with President Trump and top CEOs will "make new inroads in furthering business opportunities in oil and gas, healthcare and Innovation Houston''s three core sectors".

"We need a non-stop flight from Houston to New Delhi. Modi announced a direct flight from San Francisco to New Delhi during his 2015 speech in Silicon Valley, chamber members hope the same happens at Houston," he said.

Jagdip Ahluwalia, founding Secretary and Executive Director of the IACCGH, said President Trump attending the event was a sign of the "growing importance of the US-India relationship".

"From 2018 to May 2019, India moved from being Houston''s 9th largest trading partner to its 4th largest trading partner preceded only by Mexico, China and Brazil," he said.

According to the US Census Bureau Foreign Trade Division, the trade between Houston and India is up 82.2%, with Houston exports to India up 106.5% and India's exports to Houston up by 48.8%.

"Modi''s last visit to Washington and meeting with Trump led to a multibillion dollar deal by India to buy US crude oil, which was a multi-billion dollar deal by India to buy US liquefied natural gas, a lot of which will ship from our region and we are positive Modi''s visit to the home of the energy hub, NASA will lead to a new series of bilateral opportunities between our region which IACCGH is here to help facilitate and support," Ahluwalia added.

Before Modi will deliver the community address, he is scheduled to have a round table meeting with various energy-related top business leaders. There are also some community-related brief meetings involved during his short trip to Houston, which includes meeting Kashmiri Pandits settled in the US.

Jugal Malani, chairperson of the Texas India Forum, said, "Our community loves Prime Minister Modi and the multi-million-dollar event is fully funded through resources raised within the community. The mega cultural show will highlight Indian heritage and we have performers from all across America joining in".

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reported that the US-based relatives of two Kashmiris have sued Prime Minister Modi in a federal court on Thursday ahead of his visit in Houston, alleging that his unilateral action to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 has led to the detention of many persons.

Some protests by the International Humanitarian Foundation of Houston are also being planned against Modi''s visit and some pro-Pakistan and anti-Kashmir billboards have also appeared at some places in the city.

According to sources, over 10,000 people will protest the Indian government's decision to end Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

However, the Governor's Office, city officials along with a huge pool of volunteers, are working towards the grand success of the event.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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