Harvey's extensive impact revealed in aerial views of Houston

Helicopter view of Houston

For more than four days, America has seen the flooded streets of Houston, neighborhood by neighborhood. Now, a wider view of the devastation is visible as improved weather conditions have cleared the way for non-rescue helicopters to fly over some areas. But even as the waters finally start to recede, the scope of Houston's flooding and its aftermath is devastating, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan, who took to the skies for a firsthand view.

East Houston is still an area where people are being airlifted to safety by rescue helicopters, which have been flying in dangerous conditions through rain and high winds to bring stranded people to safety.

Civilian aircraft were not allowed to fly over some of the worst-hit neighborhoods, but from the air Duncan and pilot Michael Hume still saw street after street filled with water. As dusk fell, the eerie sight of businesses with their lights on looked like islands in a parking lot lake.

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Aerial view of Houston flooding CBS News

Hume flew through storm conditions to get to South Texas on Monday.

"It was a lot going on. This kind of weather pattern that was going on is probably some of the craziest I've seen in terms of the ferociousness of the storms and how quickly they were coming around," Hume said.  

It's that kind of ferociousness that rescue helicopters have been facing all week, flying in lower, more dangerous conditions.

"Not all heroes wear capes. And a lot wear flight suits," Hume said of the rescue crews.

Drones were allowed to fly in some areas Tuesday as well, capturing images of flooded highways and streets and neighborhoods covered with water. The entire city at a standstill. 

But from the air Tuesday, weather conditions finally looked to be improving.

"I'm just thankful. That you're actually able to see the sunset. 'Cause that sun is gonna bring a ray of hope to the Houston area," Hume said.

Despite that heartening "ray of hope," it's clear the crisis is far from over. During the helicopter ride Tuesday, there were nine rescue helicopters in the same vicinity – still working to bring stranded people to safety.