Catastrophe strikes

Harvey slams powerful blow on Texas, continues to leave behind destruction with ‘unprecedented flooding’ as thousands rush to aid


MCT Photo

CATASTROPHIC. Harvey continues to wreck havoc on the Gulf states, especially Texas. Its torrential rain, expected to continue for days, is responsible for the catastrophic flooding plaguing the area; but residents are still remaining strong. “They are what I call typical Texans. They were resilient, they were strong, they were strong-spirited, they were happy. They were just happy to be there and be alive,” Abbott told reporters at a press conference.

At 9:45 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey made landfall just northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. It came packed with torrential rain and 130 mph winds.

At least five deaths and more than a dozen injuries were reported by Sunday. The hurricane also left behind heavy building damage, shredded trees, and blown-off roofs although the full extent of the devastation remains unknown.

Currently, over 316,000 people remain without power.

“This event is unprecedented, and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced,” said the National Weather Service (NWS) on Sunday morning.

The system was downgraded to a tropical storm by Saturday afternoon as maximum sustained winds dropped to 60 mph. However, it is still expected to create a “rainfall disaster” over the next six days.

Pullquote Photo

The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before.”

— the National Weather Service

“The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before. Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days,” according to the NWS.

Already, at least 50 inches of rain have fallen in some areas. ABC meteorologist Travis Herzog estimates that 340-370 billion gallons of rainwater have inundated Texas, exceeding other major flooding events in the region by over 100 billion gallons.

“We are still stranded in our home with little kids and the water keeps rising. We have [tried calling several numbers], but their lines are all busy or they don’t answer,” said Janet Castillo,  Houston resident, according to CNN.

Emergency responders have been stretched thin, completing over 1,000 high-water rescues Saturday night. They have asked the public to donate boats.

“911 services at capacity. If u can shelter in place do so, a few inches in your home is not imminent danger. Only call if in imminent danger,” the city tweeted.

Help has come from all directions as numerous organizations and groups from all over the country have moved into the Texas area to assist with relief and recovery efforts.

More than 3,000 national and state guard troops are being deployed, including 2,000 members of the Texas Military Department’s Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and Texas State Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard has also dispatched five helicopters, as Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, Texas said in a news conference.

According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the American Red Cross has 21 shelters open where 1,450 people displaced by the hurricane are staying, as of Saturday afternoon, with 42 more shelters on standby when needed.

Furthermore, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has amassed over 396,000 liters of water, 524,000 meals, 4,500 tarps, and 53 generators at incident support bases across Texas and Louisiana.

Other organizations that are aiding the affected areas include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Matthew 25 Ministries.

States have put together response groups as well.

Four Cincinnati firefighters are part of the 49-member team of Ohio first responders (OHTF-1) deployed to Texas, leaving Dayton at 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 25. OHTF-1 is being led by Cincinnati Fire Captain Mike Cayse.

“From structural collapse, to water rescue to over land search – they’re prepared for any of those and all of those and can do it simultaneously,” said Cincinnati Assistant Chief Tom Lakamp to WLWT.

Joining them are eighty members of New York City’s Urban Search and Rescue task force, which left Brooklyn on Sunday. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo had already sent 104 Air National Guard rescue teams the day before.

“After Superstorm Sandy, so many cities stepped up to help our people,” recalled Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City in a tweet.

Firefighters from southern California and Red Cross volunteers from New Jersey are also headed to Texas.

President Donald Trump will be traveling to Texas on Tues., Aug. 29 to survey the damage left by Harvey.