Harvey Storm, the first devastating hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in almost 12 years, is wreaking havoc in cities and towns across Texas. While the hurricane still continue to swallow streets and neighborhoods, tens of thousands of people flee the area to escape what many predict could rise to nearly 50 inches of rain, the record-breaking flooding levels in the state’s history.
- Officials in Texas estimate at least 30,000 people will be forced to flee the flooding, while others are warning that Harvey storm could affect millions.
- Experts are already calling for losses in the double-digit billions, though the natural disaster is far from over.
- At least five people have died as a result of the devastating flooding, heavy rain, and severe storms, though officials warn that as the waters recede the death toll will rise.
- The hurricane is expected to linger over Texas “for days,” affecting thousands of square miles and millions of people.
- Officials in Houston, home to some of the most vital oil refineries in the U.S., estimate that the Texas metropolis has already suffered billions in damage and would take “years” to fully recover.
- About 25% of all oil and gas operations have been shut down in the Gulf of Mexico, causing gasoline prices to spike.
- Questions arise as to why the U.S. was so unprepared for Hurricane Harvey, with some blaming the poor wetland management in the area, and others suggesting that the National Hurricane Center and FEMA were not ready for the storm.
- S. President Donald Trump praised the people of Texas for their “incredible spirit” on Sunday.
HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible.Thanks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
Harvey storm to flood Texas with record-breaking nearly 50 inches of rain
Roads are underwater, with cars struggling to make their way to the bridge to flee the town. Numerous cars abandoned, with doors in many of them left open. Many people – some of whom have water at the neck level – are fleeing their houses to run for their lives, others are helping their neighbors to cross the flooded streets. City traffic lights are blinking red and green, with many cars unable to cross flooded bridges. Most buildings in the area submerged in both water and darkness…
Harvey storm, which made a landfall along the southeast Texas coastline on Friday night, has turned into a devastating natural disaster, which many compare in magnitude and damages to hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012). Devastating flooding has crippled an ever-expanding swath of cities and towns across Texas, with at least five reported dead in the first three days of the major natural disaster.
The full death toll of Harvey storm remains unclear, as officials warn the fatalities will rise as the waters recede. Thousands of rescue missions have been carried out in Texas, with over 4,000 national and state guard troops deployed across a large swath of Texas to assist with relief efforts.
Hurricane Harvey, which grew in strength to a category 2 hurricane on Friday but now re-qualified as a tropical storm, could wreak havoc in Texas for four more days, meteorologists estimate. On Monday, three days after Harvey storm made a landfall in the tiny coastal town of Rockport, more than 22 inches of rain have crippled U.S. fourth-largest city Houston.
On Sunday, the National Weather Service tweeted a warning, calling Hurricane Harvey “beyond anything experienced” and predicting that parts of Texas could be flooded with nearly 50 inches of rain, the record-breaking flooding levels in the state’s history.
— NWS (@NWS) August 27, 2017
Nearly half a million expected to seek federal aid
Nearly half a million of people are expected to seek federal aid in recovering from the devastating Harvey storm, as estimated by U.S. emergency management officials. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated that about 30,000 people will seek emergency shelter to survive the storm, and federal aid will be needed for years to fully recover from the natural disaster, the worst to strike the U.S. mainland in over a decade.
Critics have criticized local authorities for not calling for an evacuation in Houston, which has suffered severe damages since Friday, after President Trump signed a disaster proclamation for Texas last week. Mayor Sylvester Turner has defended the decision against massive evacuations in America’s fourth-largest city by saying that it would be a “nightmare” to force 6.5 million people out all at once.
More than 82,000 houses in Houston were not powered by electricity by Sunday night, with both of the city’s major airports closed, leaving numerous tourists and visitors stranded in hotels. Harvey storm could ravage the area for four more days, meteorologists warn.
Some experts estimate more than 300,000 people in Texas have no access to electricity after Harvey storm has crippled the state with severe flooding. Dallas, in northern Texas, is turning its major convention center into a “mega-shelter” that has the capacity to host 5,000 evacuees.
Who is to blame for America’s unpreparedness for Hurricane Harvey?
Houston was flooded to devastating levels, with experts predicting billions of dollars in damage and many years to fully recover for the Texan city. According to The Globe and Mail citing Glenn McGillivray, managing director at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction in Toronto, the metropolis lost more than 54,000 acres of wetland in the period between 1996 and 2010. This translates to a much higher risk of a natural disaster doing severe damage to properties in the area and putting more lives in jeopardy.
Gas prices are expected to rise sharply after a quarter of oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico have been shut down as a result of Harvey storm. The full extent of Harvey’s damage will be evaluated only after the devastating storm is gone – which could take days or even weeks – but many are raising questions as to why the U.S. was unprepared for an event like Harvey.
Many think America’s unpreparedness for the worst natural disaster in nearly 12 years has something to do with the appointment of FEMA’s new director in late June, three weeks into hurricane season. Back then, President Trump plucked retired Gen. John Kelly from his post atop the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA, to become his White House chief of staff. It’s unclear if the change of leadership in the agency has had any impact on its response to the hurricane. The National Hurricane Center, meanwhile, has been without a chief since its former head left in May.
Many say the Trump administration’s handling of Harvey storm is a critical test of President Trump’s abilities as commander-in-chief.