Hurricane death toll rises to at least 70

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DALLAS (AP) County emergency management officials in Texas say the number of deaths related to Harvey rises to at least 70.

County and city officials Wednesday attributed at least 70 Texas deaths to Harvey, the storm that dumped several feet of rain on southeast Texas in a matter of days.

The latest deaths reported by county emergency officials include a lineman electrocuted while working to restore electricity outside of Bloomington, about 13 miles southeast of Victoria, and several people with medical conditions exacerbated by flooding or delayed from receiving treatment.

The Associated Press has confirmed the fatalities and causes of death by interviewing emergency personnel and county officials in the areas under state and federal disaster designation.

The deaths span 13 counties, with the highest totals in Harris County, where at least 30 people have died from Harvey-related causes, according to officials.

At least 10 counties have reported no deaths.

Phil Bedient., the co-director of a Rice University effort to research severe storms and evacuations, says it was astounding that such a large and powerful storm did not result in more deaths.

Experts say that surprisingly low toll shows that people heeded warnings, that first responders and volunteers acted quickly and that everyone was lucky.

Lessons learned from previous disasters made a difference too. Floodgates installed around hospitals kept the power on.

Search-and-rescue crews raced toward the coast ahead of time. Houston leaders did not call for a mass evacuation, keeping people off highways that later flooded.

It also helped that Harvey crashed ashore along one of the more rural stretches of the Texas coast.