As holiday ends, some still struggle while others hope for normalcy

Some Houston residents are spending Labor Day ripping up soggy carpeting, cutting out waterlogged sheet rock, and sorting through ruined belongings. Neighborhood streets throughout the region are lined with piles of debris pulled from flooded homes.

Others, meanwhile, are looking forward to Tuesday and some sense of a return to normal.

Mayor Sylvester Turner says Houston is "open for business," but some areas are still under water. Many residents have yet to return to their homes, and not all city services are fully operational.

Police in Bellaire received reports of scavengers picking through water-damaged possessions.

Officials have turned off power in homes that have standing water near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs in west Houston, but some homes which didn't flood also had their power inadvertently cut off.

Turner said water releases will continue for at least 10 days, but they could go on for as long as 15.

Yet some things are looking up. The Army Corps of Engineers has begun a gradual reduction in releases from the reservoirs. And officials have carried out a controlled burn of unstable chemicals at the Arkema plant in Crosby, making it safe for residents in a 1.5-mile evacuation zone around the plant to return.

Meanwhile, repairs continued on the water treatment plant in Beaumont, which failed after the swollen Neches River inundated the main intake system.

Some Houston-area schools will open tomorrow, but most will hold off until Sept. 11. And road conditions have improved as the area has dried out. However, Tuesday commuters will find some key roads remain closed. Major shut-downs include Highway 6 near the reservoirs and Beltway 8 between Memorial Drive and Westheimer.

PHOTO: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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