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Posted at: Sep 20, 2019, 9:37 AM; last updated: Sep 20, 2019, 10:10 PM (IST)

Heavy rain wreaks havoc, kills 2 in Houston ahead of ‘Howdy, Modi’ event

Heavy rain wreaks havoc, kills 2 in Houston ahead of ‘Howdy, Modi’ event
Cars are flooded as people walk though the flooded street of Little York on September 19, 2019 in Houston, Texas. AFP

Houston, September 20

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 2 persons.

Tropical Depression Imelda slammed Texas on Thursday, causing devastating flooding, power outages and prompting urgent rescues and warnings across south-eastern Texas for people to stay indoors.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of emergency for 13 counties in south-eastern 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 told PTI that 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.

President 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 that 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 per cent, with Houston exports to India up 106.5 per cent and India”s exports to Houston up by 48.8 per cent.

“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 multibillion 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. — PTI

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