The mayor of Houston has said the flooded city has turned a corner after electricity was restored to much of the area and shelter numbers were beginning to decline as of Thursday night.
Mayor Sylvester Turner declared in a press conference that Houston is ‘open for business’ adding that large areas were ‘drying out and drying out well’ and traffic was returning to the streets.
Flood waters have receded enough for the recovery mission to begin and the death toll is expected to rise past its current count of 39 when most of the water is gone from Houston and Harris County by Friday or early Saturday.
As residents wade through the declining murky waters to salvage what is left of their homes, experts warn that it has ‘millions of contaminants’, including toxic chemicals, sewage, debris and waste.
More than 100,000 homes were destroyed when Harvey slammed into the Lone Star State last Friday night, and some cities are left without water as the storm continues to dump record-setting amounts of rain.
After touring the devastated Texas Gulf Coast on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said more than 300,000 people have applied for disaster aid as the region begins to put the pieces of their lives back together.
Houston has ‘turned a corner’, the mayor said on Thursday night. Power to much of the city has been restored and flood waters have receded, with officials claiming most of the water should be gone by Friday night or Saturday morning
More than 100,000 homes were destroyed when Harvey slammed into the Lone Star State last Friday night
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (pictured) declared in a press conference that Houston is ‘open for business’ adding that large areas were ‘drying out and drying out well’ and traffic was returning to the streets
More than 300,000 people have applied for disaster aid as the region begins to put the pieces of their lives back together
As residents wade through the declining murky waters to salvage what is left of their homes, experts warn that it has ‘millions of contaminants’, including toxic chemicals, sewage, debris and waste
Experts are warning people to stay clear of the dirty water, citing its numerous hazards. They advise people not to play in the water and to wash themselves right after coming into contact with it
People have begun to empty out of shelters in the city, returning home and starting to rebuild their lives
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday night, Turner said he expects to move people from the Toyota Center downtown to the nearby George R. Brown Convention Center on Friday.
The convention center, which once housed 10,000 people at one point, sheltered about 8,000 late Thursday.
Officials were also optimistic about the heavily flooded city, expecting the waters to be gone from most of Houston and Harris County by late Friday or early Saturday.
The city is beginning to recover from the catastrophic storm with just 37,000 left without power, down by Wednesday’s number of 75,000. Houston has a customer base of around 2.4 million.
As residents begin to return to their homes to assess damage, experts are warning people to stay clear of the dirty water, citing its numerous hazards.
Porfirio Villarreal, a spokesman for the Houston Health Department, said to the New York Times: ‘We’re telling people to avoid the floodwater as much as possible.
‘Don’t let your children play in it. And if you do touch it, wash it off. Remember, this is going to go on for weeks.’
Vice President Mike Pence announced that Trump and Melania would be returning to Texas on Saturday, after the president received flack for failing to meet with Hurricane Harvey victims and later claiming he saw wrath of the storm ‘first hand’ when he went on Tuesday.
In his speech on Thursday, Pence commended state and federal officials who aided the relief effort before proclaiming his admiration of citizen volunteers and encouraged all Americans to find a way to help.
The vice president also revealed that more than 300,000 people affected by the storm have already registered for disaster aid and said that Trump’s administration expects Congress to ‘move quickly’ in funding legislation.
A house in Orange, Texas, on Thursday where flood waters continue to swallow up homes after Hurricane Harvey
Houses in Port Arthur, Texas, on Thursday morning. The true devastation of Hurricane Harvey unfolded on Wednesday as emergency crews began the grisly mission of recovering bodies from homes and flood water
Water swamps Port Arthur, Texas, where thousands were impacted by the wrath of Hurricane Harvey earlier in the week
Houses in Port Arthur, Texas, on Thursday morning. With the rain finally over in Houston and other parts of Texas and the flood waters now receding, recovery missions can start
A satellite image shows Harvey moving away from Texas and towards Mississippi and Tennessee and other states
‘WE’LL BE GOING DOOR-TO-DOOR’: RESCUE TEAMS TURN FOCUS TO FINDING BODIES
Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison said on Wednesday night that the department’s focus was now on finding the bodies of the dead.
‘We’re to start transitioning from a rescue mode to recovery operations.
‘We’re going to begin what we call a wide area search in the areas that have been most heavily impacted.
‘We’ll be doing a block by block, door by door search of structures which we believe have had 3ft or greater of water in it to ensure that there are no people that we have left behind.’
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo previously said he was ‘worried’ about how many bodies his force would find.
The realistic death toll will emerge over the coming weeks and months.
Texan fire fighters were going door-to-door in a grim search for survivors and victims of Hurricane Harvey as hospitals and homes that were the last to be hit are evacuated on Thursday morning.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said previously that he feared how many bodies his officers would find. His bleak outlook was echoed by Fire Department Chief Terry Garrison at a press conference late on Tuesday night.
As emergency crews switched their efforts from rescue to recovery mode on Thursday, the military faced harsh criticism for how it has handled the catastrophe which has been described as a 1,000-year-flood.
Former Joint Task Force Katrina Commander Russel Honore likened the response to ‘amateur hour’ and blasted the government for not having a better plan.
Harvey has almost cleared out of Texas and is making its way over Louisiana in the less severe form of a tropical depression. By Friday night, it will creep up in a northwest diagonal direction over Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, bringing heavy not not life-threatening rain.
But just as the panic seemed to die down on Thursday, sudden floods caused by burst rivers in Beaumont triggered the evacuations of medical centers and the failure of water plants meant that hospitals filled with patients were suddenly not fit for use.
Two hundred patients were removed from the Baptist Beaumont Hospital on Thursday after its water failed. Elderly patients from the Gulf Medical Center were also transported to other facilities in wheelchairs and on gurneys.
As of Thursday night;
- The death toll is 39 and is expected to rise quickly as crews switched their efforts from rescue to recovery missions
- Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical depression and moved out of Texas after six days of torturous rain
- It will bring heavy rain through Mississippi, Tennessee and parts of Kentucky before finally tailing off on Friday
- 100,00 homes have been destroyed by the storm and more damage will reveal itself as the waters recede
- Some people in Houston returned home to find their houses ruined while others, expecting to discover them in pieces, cried tears of joy after finding them in tact
- The entire city of Beaumont is without running water due to failed water plants, forcing the evacuation of hospitals
- An explosion at a chemical plant in Houston leaked toxic substances in to the air and water
- Rescue efforts continue in parts of southeast Texas and Louisiana
- More towns are still being evacuated including Sweeney and neighborhoods near the Addicks reservoir
Volunteer rescuer Matt Clarke searches for local residents after a mandatory evacuation was ordered in the area beneath the Barker Reservoir as water is released, after Hurricane Harvey caused widespread flooding in Houston
A home in west Houston is marked with an X to indicate that it has been checked and cleared for flood victims
A man stands in his flooded home in a west Houston neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on Thursday
Local residents evacuate after a mandatory evacuation order in the area beneath the Barker Reservoir as water is released after Hurricane Harvey caused widespread flooding in Houston
Residents in some parts of Tyler County, which has a population of around 20,000 which sits to the north of the city, were told to ‘get out or die’ on Wednesday night as rivers overflowed, triggering yet more floods. Pictured: Residents who live near the Barker Reservoir evacuating
Light rain will continue in parts of Louisiana, all of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina. There will be heavier rain in parts of Tennessee, northern Mississippi and a small pocket of Arkansas until Friday but the rainfall will come nowhere close to measuring the 51 inches which fell in Texas over the weekend and earlier in the week
Elderly patients were suddenly evacuated out of the Gulf Health Center in Port Arthur on Wednesday as flood waters through it
An elderly patient waits to be removed from the Gulf Medical Center in Port Arthur on Wednesday as flood water rises
A rescuer removes an elderly patient from the Gulf Medical Center in Port Arthur on Wednesday
Rescuers evacuate elderly patients from the Gulf Health Care Center in Port Arthur on Wednesday
Boats move through Highway 96 in Beaumont, Texas, on Thursday looking for anyone in need of rescue. A rescue worker emerges from a Houston home (right) triumphantly holding a gold fish bowl on Thursday
Tonya Sutherland tries to save her injured calf by rolling it along the grass with a barrel in Winnie, Texas
A man helps cows escape from flood water in Winnie, Texas, on Thursday after Hurricane Harvey
A truck underwater in Houston, Texas, on Thursday where floods continued to surge in parts due to the controlled release of water from two overspilling dams
Residents in Port Arthur, Texas, examine the flood water outside their home on Thursday
The swampy Interstate 10 on Thursday in Vidor, Texas, where high water vehicles tow boats past underwater houses
Fire fighters in Houston are working 48 hour shifts to recover victims and police officers for the city are not being allowed to go home until the demand for their time is under control
Rescues are still ongoing in some parts of Texas including Buffalo Bayou in Houston, one of the first places to be severely flooded, (left) and Port Arthur (right) which was devastated on Tuesday
‘LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT’ – FRESH WARNING FOR HARVEY OPPORTUNISTS AS ATTORNEY GENERAL RECEIVES 700 COMPLAINTS OF PRICE GOUGING
There were fresh warnings for opportunistic criminals on Thursday who hoped to capitalize from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey – loot and you will be shot.
As the humanitarian crisis of the storm unfolds and Good Samaritans rush to help, a handful of evil businesses and individuals have tried to take advantage.
Looting is a concern but only four arrests have been made for it. The mayor of Houston has implemented a midnight to 5am curfew to curtail it.
Texan business owners are enforcing their own preventative measures. At the Little York Food Mart in Houston, a former law enforcement officer is standing guard with a shot gun.
In a video-taped message for looters, he warned: ‘I am not afraid to shoot you.’ There were signs warning ‘looters will be shot’ outside homes near the Barker Reservoir too.
The Attorney General has so far received more than 700 complaints for price gouging – an illegal act which Governor Greg Abbott condemned as ‘reprehensible’ and ‘un-Texan’ on Wednesday.
Among culprits was Best Buy which was caught selling packets of water for $42 earlier in the week. They have since apologized.
As Houston prepared to face the hurricane’s grisly aftermath, there was still imminent danger and panic in other parts of Texas and the Gulf Coast.
In east Texas, the entire city of Beaumont is now without running water. Residents in some parts of Tyler County, which has a population of around 20,000 which sits to the north of the city, were told to ‘get out or die’ on Wednesday night as rivers overflowed, triggering yet more floods.
Anyone who chose to stay behind was told to write their social security number on their arm so that emergency services would later be able to identify their body.
There was also fresh danger in Harris County in Houston after two explosions at a chemical plant. Fifteen police officers were taken to hospital for treatment after being exposed to the harmful substances which were released from Arkema Inc. Plant as a result of the blasts.
In Houston alone, the fire department has received 15,000 calls for help since Harvey made landfall. Some areas of the city continue to be at risk as water from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs is released, causing the flood level in areas nearby to rise.
On Thursday, 40 survivors were rescued from flood water in the city. The emergency services have rescued 3,500 in total since Harvey began.
There was harsh criticism of the military over its response to the tragedy from Honore who said of the northern command – the division tasked with overseeing state.
Some areas in Houston have seen waters recede enough to try and salvage items from homes. Pictured: Edward Casanova carries a chair as he helps dry out items from a friend’s house on Thursday in Houston
Alejandro Castillo takes a break from carrying water-soaked items out of her family’s home after Hurricane Harvey flood waters receded in Houston
John Rose pauses while salvaging items from his flood-damaged house, although some homes are still partially under water
Tianna Oliver pauses while helping a crew of volunteers from her work tear out drywall in her flood-damaged house Thursday
Lucy Liu dumps trash on a pile of debris as she helps her co-workern clean out her flood-damaged house in Houston
‘Something is significantly wrong with out control and command. There comes a point in time with the mission that it is too big for the state national guard and they need to get the hell over it and bring in the big dogs when you’ve got a big mission,’ he said.
In a jibe at President Trump, who has repeatedly congratulated local efforts to address the catastrophe, he went on: ‘They need to stop patting each other on the back while these poor people are out here waiting to be rescued.’
Fire fighters in Houston are working 48 hour shifts to recover victims and police officers for the city are not being allowed to go home until the demand for their time is under control.
‘Most of our crews are on duty. They have been working non-stop, 48 hour shifts,’ Chief Garrison said on Wednesday.
‘When they need downtime, we’re sending them to cots to rest. We have kept them working and they will continue to do that,’ Houston Police Department Asst. Chief Larry Satterwhite added.
In Beaumont, recovery efforts are still a long way off as emergency services frantically work on rescuing people from the rising waters.
On Tuesday night, the Netches river level rose to a terrifying 82ft. It prompted a sudden and dramatic warning from the Tyler County Emergency Department which said in a late night Facebook post: ‘The loss of life and property is certain. Get out or die!’
The town of Sweeney, which is home to around 3,700 people, is also being evacuated. Emergency crews will leave there on Friday, its mayor revealed ominously on Thursday.
More water is expected to rush down on Houston from the Barker reservoir which is on the verge of overflowing.
‘SOMETHING IS SIGNIFICANTLY WRONG’: KATRINA COMMANDER’S THUNDEROUS CRITICISM OF US MILITARY RESPONSE TO HURRICANE HARVEY
On Wednesday, Former Joint Task Force Katrina Commander Russel L. Honore made the following remarks to CNN’s Erin Burnett in a scathing condemnation of the US military response to Hurricane Harvey.
He has been inundated with gratitude and praise by people in Texas who say his assessment is spot on.
‘Night is coming and it is going to get worse before it gets better. We have a lot of citizens that are hanging by the thread of their lives.
’12 years ago today I arrived in New Orleans post Katrina. We did an extensive study on readjust how we were going to do business. We put a lot of emphasis on the states being the first responders. The problem is we have 50 different solutions.
DECISION NOT TO EVACUATE
‘It will be proven wrong because that is not the doctrine of homeland security. You take actions to protect people. We put a lot of money in these state parish and county control so they can be predictive. You don’t have to evacuate 6milion people. You evacuate the elderly and the disabled. You evacuate the people in areas that were previously flooded and you allow people to voluntarily evacuate. This is a bankrupt problem.
He has been warning people to evacuate for days
‘I hope the guy in Miami and Tampa is not listening and thinking this is a success because it is not. Last week I wrote a Twitter saying this whole operation didn’t have scale.
COMPARISON TO KATRINA
‘In Katrina we had 40,000 national guard, 240 helicopters in the first 4 days. They just got 100 helicopters in Texas. This is a lot bigger. I went out in a boat this morning and this is huge. After Katrina, the air elements and components of the northern command created a significant grid system for search and rescue.
‘I don’t know where that is. Doesn’t look like anyone in Texas read that plan.
PROBLEMS AT THE TOP
‘Something is significantly wrong with our command and control and they need to stop patting each other on the back while these poor people are out here waiting to be rescued. You gotta come in big and be there right at the edge of the storm so that you can come in and rescue people.
‘The federal government took their hand off it. They went off to fight terrorism and each time we have a Sandy, or now a Harvey, the solution is different. It’s put by the local state. They don’t evacuate, they don’t preposition troops.
‘The American people have put too much confidence in us. We have been too successful overseas to come out in amateur hour and incrementally deploy the force.
‘I’m sounding critical but if we don’t talk about this now…cause the congress thought we fixed this. 5th army got the mission to supervise army response to civil authorities under northern command, a command you never hear of. There comes a point in time with the mission that it is too big for the state national guard and they need to get the hell over it and bring in the big dogs when you’ve got a big mission.’
A mandatory evacuation order was issued late on Tuesday for people living near the dam.
Many at-risk neighborhoods in its periphery have already been abandoned.
Despite the fact that Harvey has been downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression, the National Hurricane Center warned of continuing flooding in parts of southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
The cost of the damage, which includes 500,000 ruined cars, is likely to total $160 billion. Even evacuation shelters in parts of the state were not safe from the chaos. Water rushed through the Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur on Tuesday where scores of evacuees were taking shelter.
After his tour of Corpus Christi on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said that already more than 300,000 people have registered for disaster aid, adding that the Trump administration expects Congress to ‘move quickly’ in funding legislation.
He said: ‘We expect Congress to move quickly on the initial legislation and we”ll be working very diligently in the opening weeks of Congress to accomplish that.’
Harvey has brought the heaviest rainfall in US history, soaking Texas with more than 51 inches since it first made landfall last Friday.
It will move on and into Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, bringing with it heavy not not life-threatening rain.
Life-threatening flooding is still a concern in pockets of south-east Texas. Other dangers were caused on Thursday by a fire at a chemical plant which released harmful substances in to the air and water.
The explosions at Arkema Inc. sent 15 police officers to hospital. Eight were released shortly afterwards.
Many people are still in urgent need of rescue in Beaumont, Lake Charles and Port Arthur.
As rescue teams and volunteers continue rescuing stranded residents from the waters, National Guardsmen and women have been brought back from overseas deployment to help with the disaster.
Two explosions at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, have released harmful substances in to the air and water
There were two explosions at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Houston on Thursday morning as a result of the floods
A Houston mansion sits in flood water after being swamped by Hurricane Harvey
A woman and her dog are pushed through the flood water by two men in Port Arthur on Thursday
On Wednesday, police in Houston churn through flood water looking for victims. The death toll will rise significantly from 38 as they continue their recovery mission
Planes are surrounded by flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey at the West Houston Airport in Texas
The US Coast Guard responds to search and rescue requests after Hurricane Harvey in the Beaumont on Wednesday. The Coast Guard is working closely with all federal, state and local emergency operations centers and has established incident command posts to manage search and rescue operations
HURRICANE HARVEY HEALTH RISK
Water-borne infections and diseases
While the rain might be clean, what it dredges up from the sewers and around the area is not.
Floodwater can contain harmful sewage, chemicals and waterborne germs that can cause infections and diseases for people.
People in Texas could in turn get viruses from ingesting the water or food that has been in contact with the floodwater, which would cause symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Use of hand sanitizers and purified water at shelters is recommended by officials.
Objects that have been submerged in water can also cause infection if touched or used after.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends parents to throw out toys for children that were in the rain water unless they are thoroughly cleaned.
Trench food – which causes skin to itch, swell up, blister and peel off – is also possible after extended exposure to dirty water.
Floodwater can be dangerous for people with open wounds, particularly if they have other health conditions.
Sharp objects hidden in the water could create cuts that then become filled with water-borne bacteria, causing infections.
And the harmful bacteria dredged up from the sewers and other unsanitary locations could require strong antibiotics than usual.
People with open wounds are advised to keep them clean, wrapped and away from any of the dirty water.
It’s also advised that everyone get a tetanus shot, as glass, metal and other debris could lead to the life-threatening illness.
The pools of stagnant, warm water left after the hurricane ends will be a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes – which can then spread infections.
Zika and West Nile were among the diseases that saw increases in areas of Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.
Poor people are particularly at risk as they don’t have the air conditioning and screens that can filter out the parasitic insects.
Continuous use of insect repellent is recommended to avoid infection.
Mold and cleanup concerns
The use of generators to power homes can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, experts warn.
Mold is also a health hazard, the CDC warns, and all drywall and insulation tainted by floodwater or sewage should be removed from homes.
Mattresses, pillows, carpeting – even stuffed toys – should be tossed out.
Hard surfaces can be disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water.
If mold covers more than 100 square feet, a trained mold remover should be sought out, experts say.
There are currently 14,000 troops mobilized in Texas and another 10,000 are on their way, Governor Abbott revealed on Wednesday. The troops already in Texas have conducted more than 8,500 rescues and more than 1,400 shelter-in-place checks, Abbott said.
There are also two US Navy warships being deployed to Texas to help with relief efforts.
The Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship and the Oak Hill, a smaller dock landing ship, were being sent to support ‘federal, state and local authorities ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey,’ according to the Navy.
Abbott would not give an official death toll but praised volunteers and first responders for going ‘above the call of duty’ to save lives.
‘I am not amazed because we have seen this before,’ he said when asked for his response to the efforts of residents to help one another through the crisis.
‘Texans really step up and protect and aide their fellow Texans.
‘Whether you’re a first responder, neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger – Texans have really stepped up.’
Mexico’s Red Cross also sent an envoy of volunteers to storm-devastated Houston on Wednesday, hours after Abbott said the state accepted an offer of aid from the Mexican government, including vehicles, boats, supplies and food.
The support from Mexico’s Red Cross, a non-government agency, is separate from the official aid offer.
The convoy of 33 English-speaking volunteers left from Mexico City for Texas, where they plan to work in Houston shelters for 20 days before being replaced by a fresh crop of volunteers.
Abbott said his state would accept the offer of assistance from neighboring Mexico.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thanked Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who was visiting Washington, for the offer of assistance.
‘They’ve offered a wide range of assistance coordinating with the governor down in Texas and also through FEMA, but very generous of Mexico to offer their help at this very, very challenging time for our citizens down in Texas and now moving toward the border with Louisiana,’ said Tillerson. ‘So thank you very much, Mr Secretary.’
The flooding will take up to a week to disappear in Texas, he said, and the clean-up mission will take months.
In Beaumont, 26 inches of rain have already fallen and another 10 inches are due to fall before Harvey moves away and on to its next victim – Louisiana.
Rescue operations are underway in southeast parts of the region with scores still trapped in their homes as water engulfs them.
In Houston, the flood waters have begun to recede but it will take days for them to entirely drain.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena says firefighters will begin searching neighborhoods in southwest Houston starting Thursday morning.
Assistant Fire Chief Richard Mann says the searches are being done to ensure that “no people were left behind.” Floodwaters in many parts of Houston have receded while other neighborhoods are still dealing with rising waters from bayous and other swollen waterways.
Mann says the fire department will conduct these searches throughout the city. Officials expect the process to take one to two weeks to complete.
Mann says since Harvey inundated the Houston area, the fire department has received more than 15,000 calls for service. He says the volume of calls has stabilized and the fire department is working to transition from rescues calls to a recovery mode.
Abbott also used the press conference to admonish businesses and opportunists who were taking advantage of the catastrophe with price gouging.
Best Buy is among retailers under fire for hiking up prices as panic surges across Texas. It has apologized after photographs emerged of packs of water being sold for $42.
‘Price gouging is not only reprehensible, it’s illegal. It is un-Texan and we will not tolerate it.
Almost 30,000 gallons of crude oil and about 8,500 gallons of wastewater spilled about 150 miles west of Houston because floodwaters from Harvey toppled two oil storage tanks, state officials said Wednesday.
Burlington Resources Oil and Gas reported the spills in DeWitt County to the Texas Railroad Commission on Wednesday. They include a 16,170-gallon (385 barrels) spill near the town of Westhoff and a 13,272 gallon (316 barrels) spill west of Hochheim.
It was not immediately clear if any of the spilled oil was recovered.
Burlington Resources is a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips. Company representatives did not immediately respond to telephone and email messages seeking comment.
More damage to oil industry infrastructure is expected to emerge as floodwaters recede.
The entire city of Beaumont – which has a population of more than 110,000 – is without running water because of the floods. Above, Barbara Nelson from Coastal Industrial and Specialty gas welding supplies holds a sign outside her store to inform passers-by she had run out of bottled water too
Volunteers set up extra cots at the NRG stadium in Houston, Texas, on Thursday in preparation for more evacuees
There are 32,000 evacuees at shelters across Texas and an estimated 48,000 homes have been destroyed by the storm. Above, a man naps as a young girl next to him sits on a skee ball machine at Max Bowl in Port Arthur
Evacuees rest on cots in a shelter at Woodcrest Church after their homes were damaged from rising flood waters due to Tropical Storm Harvey on Wednesday in Lumberton, Texas
A man and woman pray as they find a spot together at the Max Bowl in Port Arthur, Texas, on Wednesday
A man sleeps on one of the bowling ball returns on Wednesday as evacuees continue to pour into the Max Bowl, which was converted to a shelter for those displaced by flooding in Port Arthur
GAS PRICES HAVE JUMPED BY 10 CENTS SINCE HARVEY HIT – AND PANICKED DRIVERS ARE MAKING THINGS WORSE
Gas prices are surging in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and panicked drivers are making things worse.
Prices have seen a 10 cent jump in the aftermath of the storm, making the national average for a gallon now $2.45, according to the AAA. States in the southeast have had an even steeper hike, increasing by 17 cents in Georgia and by 20 cents in South Carolina.
Experts forecast that the price will continue to rise another 5 cents, due to Texas shutting down several oil refineries because of massive flooding in the state.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, said to CNN: ‘There’s a worry now that most of the Texas refineries could be compromised for weeks rather than days.’
And price hikes could be the least of people’s worries, as some drivers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area rushed to their pumps to find lines and some stations out of fuel just ahead of the Labor Day weekend, reported the Dallas Morning News.
Prices in North Texas have already reached over $3 a gallon, with one downtown Dallas pump advertising for $3.97 a gallon, according to the Associated Press.
One gas station Chain, QuikTrip with 135 stations in the Metroplex, said the company is keeping about half of its locations without gas.
Spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said: ‘QuikTrip is going to designate certain stores in all quadrants of the Metroplex and make sure those particular stores will have gasoline.
‘We have been through this in the southeast Atlantic area. If we tried to keep every store full of gasoline, we’d have outages everywhere. Nobody knows the extent of the damage to the pipelines and refineries. They’re under water.’
Gas prices are surging in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and panicked drivers are making things worse. Prices have seen a 10 cent jump in the aftermath of the storm, making the national average for a gallon now $2.45, according to the AAA
Despite continued reports of damage, Houston’s two major airports reopened Wednesday on a limited basis, as floodwaters receded and the skies over the Texas city cleared with monster storm Harvey moving to the east.
The two airports, George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby, were to resume operations at 4pm, after the runways and roads leading to the airport were cleared of water.
No flights were imminent, but airport officials hoped airlines would quickly resume service.
‘This is going to be a phased process,’ Houston airport system spokesman Bill Begley told AFP, adding that domestic flights would resume first.
‘We’re focusing on this weekend, probably when we’re going to see more and more flights at both airports.’
Thousands of flights have been canceled or delayed due to Harvey.
About 800 passengers with connecting flights were stuck at the city’s airports as Harvey made landfall over the weekend as a Category Four hurricane.
Evacuees ride on a truck after they were driven from their homes by the flooding from Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday in Port Arthur
A home in Port Arthur is surrounded by water after the flooding of Hurricane Harvey inundated the area
Trucks pass each other along Highway 90 after parts of the road were flooded by Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday in Port Arthur
Chris Wiley keeps an eye out for people needing help in Port Arthur, Texas, on Wednesday
Evacuees are evacuated on a motorboat after being rescued in Port Arthur on Wednesday
Volunteers help handle a boat in a swift current during the rescue of of people from their homes in Beaumont on Wednesday
HARVEY HAD THE MOST RAIN OF ANY ATLANTIC HURRICANE: AREA IN STORM’S PATH HAD MORE RAIN THAN BOSTON AND SEATTLE THIS YEAR
Experts have said Hurricane Harvey has brought the most amount of rain than any other Atlantic hurricane.
The hurricane dumped a staggering 24.5 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana, and an astonishing 51 inches of rain was recorded by a weather station in Houston, according to reports.
The sheer amount of water in just a five-day span has surpassed the amount of rain Miami, Boston and Seattle have seen since January 1, 2017, reported the Atlantic.
On Sunday, after the natural disaster made landfall late on Friday night, the Weather Prediction Center said: ‘Local rainfall amounts of 50 inches would exceed any previous Texas rainfall record.
‘The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before. Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days.’
Earlier reports claimed that the area would see around 30 inches of rain, already a catastrophic amount of water.
Starting Sunday, air carriers evacuated most of those passengers out of the airports to Dallas, Chicago or Detroit, where they could be connected to flights to their ultimate destinations.
Begley said fully reopening the airports was part of the city’s effort to return to a sense of normalcy. It also signaled to airlines that ‘it’s time to get started,’ he said.
‘I do believe that it shows that we’re moving forward a little bit.’ Southwest Airlines announced that it planned to resume flights Saturday.
On Wednesday, Joel Myers of AccuWeather warned that Harvey had surpassed all other storms in terms of destruction.
‘This will be the worst natural disaster in American history. The economy’s impact, by the time its total destruction is completed, will approach $160 billion, which is similar to the combined effect of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,’ he told The New York Post.
At a midday press conference, Governor Greg Abbott said the worst of the rain was not over in Beaumont and Port Arthur and said the disaster was worse than Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
‘When you consider the population, size, and square mile size of the area impacted both by the hurricane swathe and the flooding, it’s far larger than Katrina, far larger than Sandy.’
At the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, the city’s main shelter, 10,000 are cramming in to cots, chairs and on the floor.
Among the places to open their doors to victims of Harvey’s flooding is a bowling alley in the coastal Texas city of Port Arthur.
Max Bowl general manager Jeff Tolliver says firefighters called Tuesday night to ask him to turn off the venue’s alarm system.
When he left around 2.30am Wednesday, there were 80 to 100 people sheltering there. By afternoon, there were more than 500, as well as 50 to 100 dogs and cats, a lizard and a monkey.
He says the monkey ‘was a little surprising,’ but that everyone is trying to help. The bowling alley’s cafe is feeding people and others have been dropping off clothes, toiletries, water and other things.
Tolliver and his wife left their flooded home to stay with friends. He says he moved to Texas from Michigan a year ago to get away from the snow, but ended up with rain instead.
Jaylen Welch, 10, carries her belongings out of the flood on Tram Road in Beaumont after being rescued from flooding on Wednesday
Volunteers help evacuate children from flooding in Beaumont on Wednesday
People walk along West Port Arthur Road in Beaumont, Texas toward a flooded neighborhood where their family members live after tropical storm Harvey on Wednesday
Mark Boling keeps an eye out for people needing help in Port Arthur on Wednesday after the flooding of Hurricane Harvey inundated the area
Evacuees make their way through the flood waters that surrounded part of the Max Bowl, which was converted to a shelter for those displaced by flooding in Port Arthur, Texas on Wednesday
Evacuees make their way to Max Bowl, which was converted to a shelter for those displaced by flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey in Port Arthur
A woman gets off a bus at the Max Bowl in Port Arthur, Texas, a bowling alley converted into a shelter as people are displaced from their homes because of flooding from tropical storm Harvey
GOOD SAMARITAN SAVES 50 PEOPLE – INCLUDING BABIES AND THE SICK – WHO WERE STUCK IN HARVEY FLOODS AFTER RESCUERS DIDN’T SHOW UP
Gaelon Phillips, 23, saved the lives of 50 people – including babies and the sick – who were stuck in Harvey floods after rescuers failed to show up to Port Arthur, Texas.
A Good Samaritan saved the lives of 50 people – including babies and the sick – who were stuck in Harvey floods after rescuers failed to show up.
Gaelon Phillips, 23, took matters into his own hands when he decided to step in and rescue members of his community in Port Arthur, Texas, after the storm caused extensive flooding where he lived.
The music producer said he waited hours on his roof to flag down a rescue helicopter but was told his family wasn’t a top priority at the moment, leaving him to be rescued by his uncle in a boat later that day.
After realizing that emergency responders weren’t saving people fast enough, he decided to go around and bring his neighbors to dry land.
Speaking to The Sun, Phillips said: ‘People were ringing 911 and other departments and getting nowhere. When we went out on the boat I saw more volunteer rescues than official help – I’m talking about nine to one.
‘We were all thinking “Wow why is it taking the officials so long to respond?” They had said they were waiting until 6am to even come out and start rescuing people but the flooding started about 12-1am so that was a long time to wait.
‘I had downloaded the Zello app where you call in and let them know you need rescuing. I was Facebook-active, Twitter-active and calling all types of numbers – the US coastal guard, the Cajun Navy – any number I could see but I couldn’t get any help until seven or eight hours later.
‘My uncle and I rescued a good 50 people from our neighborhood. The streets around me had it worse than I’ve seen in the whole of Port Arthur. People were messaging me their address on Facebook asking to be rescued and I tried to get to as many as I could.
‘There were people of all ages from month-old infants to children to adults and the elderly. We even had to carry people into the boat. There was one woman who had just had some kind of surgery to her stomach and she had no feeling in her legs so we had to carry her into the boat and then carry her out of the boat to the US coastguards.’
Phillips said he wants people to know that it isn’t just the residents of Houston that are suffering from the heavy flood, but as far away as 110 miles, like he is.
He added: ‘I want people to see what we are going through. People need to know it’s not just Houston that is affected by this we all need help here too – don’t forget us.’
To donate to the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief fund, click here or call 1-800-435-7669.