Harvey Live Updates: More Rain and Rescues as Storm Lashes Texas – New York Times
• With record floodwaters devastating much of southeast Texas, more than 450,000 people are likely to seek federal aid in recovering from Harvey, the storm that has battered the Gulf Coast for days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Monday.
• The agency has estimated that about 30,000 people will seek emergency shelter, and that federal aid will be needed for years. Read more on the storm here.
• The Houston region now looks like an inland sea dotted by islands, with floodwaters inundating roads, vehicles, and even bridges and buildings. Thousands of people have been rescued from flooded homes and cars and many more are stuck in homes that remained above water but are cut off.
• At least five deaths and more than a dozen injuries have been blamed on the storm, which made landfall on Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane, the most powerful to hit the United States in a decade. Its winds have slowed to tropical-storm force.
• More than 30 inches of rain has fallen on parts of the Houston area since Thursday, the National Weather Service reported on Monday, causing catastrophic flooding that officials have called the worst in the state’s history. Torrential rains will continue through Friday, with an additional 15 to 25 inches pummeling the region, the Weather Service predicted.
• Harvey turned back out to sea on Monday morning, with the center of the storm reaching the Gulf of Mexico between Corpus Christi and Houston, the National Hurricane Center reported. It was expected to move slowly to the southeast on Monday, before churning to the northeast, along the Gulf coast.
• Times journalists chronicled the unfolding disaster: We’re sharing a collection of the most powerful photographs and a guide to our ongoing coverage. Alan Blinder witnessed dramatic rescues by the National Guard. He and Sheri Fink looked at hospitals inundated by patients and water. Julie Turkewitz captured the terror felt by Houston’s homeless. And Jack Healy visited a San Antonio evacuation center where people were desperate for news from home.
• Follow Times correspondents tracking the storm on Twitter: @mannyNYT, @alanblinder, @julieturkewitz and @ckrausss in Houston, @jackhealyNYT in San Antonio, and @jswatz in New York. Some highlights are here.
• Are you in an affected area? If you are safe, and are able to, please share your photos and videos with us.
The flooding could get worse in Houston.
The Army Corps of Engineers on Monday began releasing water from flood-control reservoirs, which is likely to worsen flooding in parts of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
The Buffalo Bayou, the major waterway flowing west to east through the heart of the city, is already at record-high flood levels, and was projected to remain that way for days, even without the release from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs at the western edge of Houston.
“As they increase the water and it comes down, the water level along Buffalo Bayou, in all probability, it will increase,” Mr. Turner said at a news conference.
“People who were not in a crisis state yesterday may find themselves in a crisis state today,” he added.
With the reservoirs at capacity, the Army Corps began releasing water from them before dawn. Mr. Turner said the release was 5,000 cubic feet per second, and would increase to 8,000.
Evacuees and residents face a new reality.
Across Harvey’s devastating path, countless people woke up Monday on cots in shelters, in the bellies of National Guard vehicles, in hotels, on friends’ couches, or trapped in their own homes — tired, hungry, and bracing for more.
Rescues of people stranded by floodwaters continued on Monday throughout southeastern Texas, and Gov. Greg Abbott said the state was sending hundreds more boats and high-clearance vehicles to the region to aid those efforts.
Governor Abbott on Monday activated the entire Texas National Guard, except those already deployed or preparing to deploy on other missions, to aid in storm rescue and recovery. He said the order will increase the number of troops involved from about 3,000 to 12,000.
Many people hunkered down in their soggy homes, heeding the advice of the National Weather Service: “Do not attempt to travel in the affected areas if you are in a safe place.”
Melanie Steele, 43, who evacuated her home over the weekend, received an alert on her phone Sunday night that the alarm had gone off in her house, which sits along a bayou in Houston’s Linkwood neighborhood.
“I’m assuming that means the water is pushing in” and that all she has is lost, she said as she sat in hotel room, hugging her dog, Baxter. “That literally put me into a tailspin.”
She said she and her husband left in a rush, with Baxter and a baggie of dog food, never imagining that they would not be able to return home.
Judge Ed Emmett, the chief executive officer in Harris County, home to Houston and 4.5 million people, said that pets would be allowed to accompany residents inside shelters. During Hurricane Katrina, some people declined to seek refuge in shelters because they could not take their pets. — JULIE TURKEWITZ in Houston
The 911 system was overwhelmed, but is catching up.
Houston’s 911 system has received 75,000 calls since the storm began, but the backlog that left many callers frustrated has been largely resolved, city officials said on Monday morning.
Over the weekend, when some residents complained that their 911 calls were not being answered, the system often had more than 100 calls at a time in the queue, Joe Laud, administration manager at the Houston Emergency Center, said at a news conference. By Monday morning, he said, that backlog was down to 10 to 15 calls.
Chief Art Acevedo said at the same news conference that the Police Department had rescued 2,000 people since the storm began — a figure that did not include rescues made by firefighters and volunteers. “At this moment we have approximately 185 critical rescue requests still pending,” he added.
Local officials warn of an ‘extremely dangerous’ situation in Houston.
The storm turned eastward early Monday, and it appeared it would stay to the east of Harris County. Forecasters called this good news, but warned that the situation could change. The heaviest bands of rainfall shifted to the northeast, battering places like Beaumont, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The Harris County flood control district said the situation remained “extremely dangerous and life-threatening,” and that more intense flooding was on the way. Mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders remained in place in neighborhoods throughout the region.
Facing criticism, Mr. Turner, the Houston mayor, on Sunday defended his decision not to order an evacuation of the entire city.
On Monday, Governor Abbott declined to question that call.
“The evacuation issue is something that can’t be second-guessed at this time, because we have to focus our priority on saving lives,” the governor told CNN.
— RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA in New York
A motorist was out of luck, and stranded at a gas station.
On Monday, a Stripes gas station in southern Houston that had planned to stay open during the storm — “We’re OPEN” read a giant hastily scrawled sign across the front of the store — had shuttered. A smaller sign on the glass door said the station was out of gas and closed until further notice.
And Carolyn Foreman stood alone by a gas pump, staring out at the nearby freeway, now so flooded with water that it reached the tops of stranded cars. Wind and rain whipped at nearby palm trees.
Ms. Foreman had slept in that spot, in her Jeep, for the two last days. “I’m stranded right here,” she said, explaining that she was trying get to her mother’s house, to safety. “I’m 61 years old, I’ve never seen this before. I’ve been here in Houston all my life. I’ve never seen nothing like this before. And I’m afraid really. I’m afraid it might get worse.” A car pulled up and a woman hopped out, a stranger to Ms. Foreman, hoping to enter the store.
Ms. Foreman evoked God as the sky darkened. A phone message to residents noted that a flash flood was coming. “I feel like he is trying to tell us something,” said Ms. Foreman.
The woman, Shaun Coleman, 37, jumped in. “Oh he is telling us something,” Ms. Coleman said. “God said we should all get together and unite. And be together, instead of going against each other every day.”
— JULIE TURKEWITZ in Houston
The oil and gas industries are facing disruptions.
The storm blew through critical areas for the country’s oil and gas industry and has already caused some disruptions in production. Exxon Mobil, for instance, said on its website Sunday that it was shutting down operations at its huge Baytown refining and petrochemical complex because of flooding, and heavy rain prompted Royal Dutch Shell to close a large refining facility in Deer Park, east of Houston.
Shell, one of the largest producers in the Gulf of Mexico, also said it had closed two offshore production platforms, Perdido and Enchilada Salsa, and evacuated most of the workers.
Still, most oil and gas production in the gulf continues uninterrupted, and analysts say it is likely that the effects on energy prices and supplies will be limited by the substantial stocks of oil available, as well as products like gasoline that are on hand because of a long period of booming global output.
“The stocks are high,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a consulting firm. “Rain damage is probably not that severe.”
He added that the storm was likely to produce “a price blip, mainly in the Gulf Coast area.”
There are signs that companies may be able to restart suspended operations relatively quickly. Valero, a large independent refiner, said in a statement Sunday that the company had assessed the two Texas facilities it had shut down and found that they did not have “substantial refinery impacts from the storm.”
Valero said it was working with government agencies and business partners to evaluate the condition of infrastructure, particularly ports, needed to resume operations. — STANLEY REED in New York
Here are some ways to help.
Donations to the Salvation Army can be made online.
Catholic Charities is accepting donations online or text CCUSADISASTER to 71777 to donate.
Airbnb is waiving all service fees for those affected by the disaster and checking in between Aug. 23 and Sept. 1.
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