Hurricane Harvey devastates Texas
Around 10 p.m. on August 25, Hurricane Harvey, classified then as a Category 4 storm, made landfall northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor at 130 mph winds.
Around 2 a.m., the storm was downgraded to a Category 2 as it moved into the town of Rockport—home to 1,000 residents— at maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, according to the BBC.
The heavy winds and rainfall came through the town knocking over telephone and utility poles, causing structural damage to businesses and homes throughout. According to ABC News, at one point the winds began tearing off the metal sides of the town’s high school gym and twisted the steel doorframe of its auditorium. The storm continued down the coast, going through areas such as Victoria and Brays Bayou, disrupting power lines, leaving at least 300,000 people with power, and knocking down trees.
As the storm continued to flood throughout the state, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared 50 counties disaster areas and urged Texas residents to begin evacuating.
“Our primary concern remains dramatic flooding”, Governor Abbott said at a press conference. “Turn around, don’t drown.”
In some areas, rainfall was estimated to total 20 inches. On Tuesday morning, more than 40 inches of rain flooded the streets of Houston, according to KABC-TV.
According to The New York Times, residents in Houston were not given the warning to evacuate until the storm was well underway, by which time, it was too late. To protect themselves, Chief Art Acevedo of the Houston Police Department urged residents to take refuge on their rooftops instead of in their attics.
As of Saturday, seven counties and five cities had issued mandatory evacuations. Despite this, some people chose to stay behind and wait out the storm. For those that chose to stay behind in Rockport, Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios had this advice at a press conference, Saturday morning:
“We’re suggesting if people are going to stay here, mark their arm with a Sharpie pen with their name and Social Security number [so that they could be identified by rescue teams if needed]. We hate to talk about things like that… It’s not something we like to do but it’s the reality; people don’t listen.”
On Sunday as the flooding continued in Houston, the Texas Department of Public Safety began dispatching airlifts to stranded drivers on Interstate 610. Sometime after, The National Guard arrived.
“They’re going to take you from there to a shelter or something like that,” Maj. Randy Stillinger of the Texas Army National Guard told his passengers; as he drove them to dry land. “I’m not sure, but it’s better than being here.” Thousands of individuals rescued in Houston were taken to the George R. Brown Convention Center. There, the Red Cross provided cots, meals, dry clothes and medical attention.
On Tuesday, President Trump flew to Corpus Christi to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and address those affected by the tropical storm. “It’s a real team, and we want to do it better than ever before,” President Trump said as he commended the work being done to assist the hurricane survivors, at a meeting with officials from local, state and federal agencies. “We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it.”
On Monday, the president said he would be working on an appropriations bill that would provide resources to help Texas confront the damage done to private property and public infrastructure.