UPDATE 8-After driving thousands from Houston homes, Harvey hits Louisiana

(Adds quotes from Texas governor, updates death toll)

LAKE CHARLES, La./HOUSTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The tropical storm that devastated Texas' Gulf Coast spread to neighboring Louisiana on Wednesday, while the U.S. energy hub of Houston remained paralyzed by a record rainfall that also drove tens of thousands of people from their homes.

Slow-moving Tropical Storm Harvey has killed at least 22 people and sent more than 32,000 to shelters since coming ashore on Friday near Corpus Christi, Texas, as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years. On Wednesday it went on to swamp a stretch of coast from Port Arthur, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Harvey was forecast to drop another 3 to 6 inches (7.5 cm) of rain on Wednesday, with a storm surge of up to 4 feet (1.2 m) along the western part of Louisiana's Gulf Coast. The floods shut the nation's largest oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, in the latest hit to U.S. energy infrastructure that has sent gasoline prices climbing.

Moody's Analytics is estimating the economic cost from Harvey for southeast Texas at $51 billion to $75 billion, ranking it among the costliest storms in U.S. history.

Port Arthur emergency officials were receiving about 300 phone calls per hour, mainly from residents whose homes were flooding, according to U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer John Miller. About 20 people were rescued in the first two hours following sunrise, with seven helicopters and skiffs also doing house-to-house checks, he said.

"The worst is not yet over for southeast Texas as far as the rain is concerned," Governor Greg Abbott said, referring to the area that includes Beaumont and Port Arthur.

He warned residents of the storm-hit areas to expect floodwaters to linger for up to a week. The state doubled the number of National Guard troops responding to the disaster, to 24,000, including 10,000 from other states, Abbott said at a midday news conference.

National Guard troops have rescued more than 8,500 people since the storm began, Abbott said.


Flood waters inundated part of Port Arthur's Bob Bowers Civic Center, forcing the residents who had sought shelter there into the raised seating stands, according to photos posted to social media. Efforts to reach Port Arthur emergency officials were not immediately successful.

About 300 people who had fled their homes around Lake Charles packed into a civic center that served as an emergency shelter.

The shelter was bracing for about 1,500 people rescued from floods by the U.S. Coast Guard, said Angela Jouett, who is running the shelter.

One shelter resident, Edward Lewis, 54, said he awoke from a deep sleep on Monday night in his home in Lake Charles, swung his legs out of bed and landed in ankle-deep water. He flagged down a passing rescue boat and spent the rest of the night at a church before being taken on a city transit bus to the Lake Charles civic center on Tuesday.

"No one has said when we can go home," he said.

Harvey made landfall for a third time early on Wednesday, and was about 30 miles north of Lake Charles, Louisiana, near the Texas border at 11 a.m. EDT (1600 GMT) with winds up to 45 miles per hour (75 kph).

Clear skies in Houston on Wednesday brought relief to the fourth-largest U.S. city after five days of downpours, although people leaving shelters faced new anxieties about the condition of the homes they had fled.

Handyman Mike Dickerson, 52, carried a grocery bag of his possessions through Houston's streets as he tried to figure out how to make it back to his home, which was waist-deep in water the last time he saw it.

"A lot of people are going back now because everything looks dry around here. But people who lost everything have nowhere to go and are still at the convention center," Dickerson said.


As of Wednesday morning, Texas officials said close to 49,000 homes had suffered flood damage, with more than 1,000 destroyed. Some 195,000 people have begun the process of seeking federal help, FEMA said.

Texas is investigating hundreds of complaints of price gouging involving loaves of bread offered for $15, fuel for $100 a gallon and hotels raising room rates, the states attorney general said on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump visited Corpus Christi and Austin on Tuesday to survey damage from the first major natural disaster to test his crisis leadership.

"After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!" Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday.

The storm made it less likely that Trump would act on his threat to shut the federal government over funding for a border wall, Goldman Sachs economists said on Wednesday. They now estimate the probability of a shutdown at 35 percent, down from 50 percent previously.

The nation's largest refinery, Valero Energy Corp's 335,000 barrel-per-day facility in Port Arthur was shut, said sources familiar with plant operations.

The storm has affected nearly one-fifth of U.S. refining capacity, sparking concerns about gasoline supply. The national average gasoline price rose to $2.404 a gallon, up six cents from a week ago, with higher spikes in Texas.

Harvey has drawn comparisons with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans 12 years ago, killing more than 1,800 people and causing some $108 billion in damage.

(Additional reporting by Richard Valdmanis, Mica Rosenberg, Marianna Parraga, Gary McWilliams, Ernest Scheyder, Erwin Seba, Ruthy Munoz, Peter Henderson and Andy Sullivan in Houston, David Gaffen in New York, Jon Herskovitz in Austin and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)