Harvey Live Updates: Trump Heads to a Flooded Texas – New York Times
With heavy rain still falling, rivers still rising, rescues still underway, and unknown thousands of people forced from their homes by record-breaking flooding, southeast Texas woke Tuesday to a long, painful road to recovery.
Tropical Storm Harvey has left Houston and much of the Gulf Coast region waterlogged and impassable, in what Gov. Greg Abbott called “one of the largest disasters America has ever faced.” With roads underwater or washed out, and basic services like electricity and water knocked out, it will be weeks before some people can return home, and many of them still do not know if they will have homes to return to. Read more about the storm here.
Here’s the latest:
• Several more inches of rain will fall Tuesday in the Houston-Galveston area, the upper Texas coast and southwest Louisiana, the National Weather Service predicted. More than 40 inches have inundated parts of the Houston area since Thursday, and storm totals could exceed 50 inches there, and 20 inches in southern Louisiana.
• President Trump will visit Texas, arriving in Corpus Christi before traveling to Austin, the state capital.
• After moving offshore on Monday, the center of Harvey on Tuesday morning was about 115 miles south-southeast of Houston, over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, with sustained winds of about 45 miles per hour. The Weather Service warned of a storm surge along the coast, with “a possibility of life- threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland.”
• Local officials have so far reported 10 deaths possibly related to the storm, six of them in Harris County, which includes Houston.
• With several rivers in the region already well above their previous flood records, the continued rain and the controlled release of water from swollen reservoirs mean that flooding will not decrease significantly for days, and some streams will rise still higher Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Weather Service.
• Tuesday marks the sixth consecutive day that Harvey, a slow-moving system that made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, has pummeled southeast Texas, and the battering will continue into Thursday. The National Hurricane Center projects that Harvey will make landfall again late Wednesday or early Thursday, most likely near Lake Charles, Louisiana.
• Times journalists are chronicling the storm and its aftermath: Here is an updating collection of the most powerful photographs, and a guide to our overage. Alan Blinder and Sheri Fink looked at hospitals inundated by patients and water. And Jack Healy visited a San Antonio evacuation center where people were desperate for news from home.
• Follow the Times correspondents reporting on the story on Twitter: Manny Fernandez, Alan Blinder, Julie Turkewitz, Jack Healy, Dave Philipps, Annie Correal, Rick Rojas, Monica Davey, Richard Fausset, Richard Pérez-Peña and Audra Burch.
Trump will visit Texas.
Mr. Trump will arrive in Corpus Christi on Tuesday for a briefing on relief efforts, and then head to Austin for a tour of an emergency operations center and a briefing with state leaders. During a news conference on Monday, Mr. Trump also pledged the federal government’s full support to residents of Texas and Louisiana who are being battered by Harvey.
For a divisive president buffeted by crises, the storm offers a rare emergency that he had no hand in creating, and a chance to demonstrate competence and act as a unifying force .
Promising quick delivery of a multibillion-dollar aid package to the storm’s victims, the president said, “We are 100 percent with you.” He promised “rapid action” on securing emergency funding to address the damage, saying he planned to move quickly — and he expected Congress to do so, as well.
A levee breach threatens area near Houston.
A levee on the Brazos River failed Tuesday morning near the community of Columbia Lakes, according to a message on Twitter from Brazoria County’s Twitter account, threatening that area and nearby small towns.
The breach affected an area, about 40 miles south-southwest of Houston, that was already under a mandatory evacuation order, but it was unknown how many people had defied the order and stayed behind. “There should be very few people left” in the affected area, said Matt Sebesta, the Brazoria County judge, to KPRC, a Houston television station.
A flood gauge upstream from the breach showed the Brazos was almost 10 feet above flood stage, the National Weather Service reported around 10 a.m. local time.
Reservoirs are reaching their capacity in Houston, too.
Water rose to the top of an emergency spillway at a major flood-control reservoir west of downtown Houston on Tuesday morning, threatening to add to flooding in the area.
Levels at the Addicks reservoir dam read slightly more than 108 feet, the height at which water should overtop the spillway at the dam’s northern end. But officials said observers had so far seen no sign of water going over the structure.
“We do expect it to happen,” said Mike Sterling, lead water manager for Army Corp of Engineers’ Southwest Division. Efforts to release water through the dam’s gates have not kept the reservoir level from rising.
Mr. Sterling said that most of the overflow should enter drainage ditches and eventually flow into Buffalo Bayou, which passes through downtown Houston. But rising water is putting several neighborhoods north of the reservoir, including Twin Lakes, Eldridge Park and Tanner Heights, at risk of more flooding.
Levels at another nearby reservoir, Barker, are increasing as well and its spillway may overtop soon, Corps officials say.
And in a cruel paradox, the city also has to worry about having enough water. Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant, one of three plants that supply water to the city, is flooded. While the system is still working, even with much of its equipment underwater, city officials are worried about their ability to keep it running.
Houston’s downtown convention center had filled with evacuees.
Thousands of people gathered on green cots under a constellation of fluorescent lights in the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Houston area’s largest shelter.
The place smelled like sweat. Flood-soaked residents shivered under blankets. On one wall, a mountain of donated clothing nearly touched the ceiling, and a snaking line of people with pets included a woman with a cage holding bunnies, chickens and at least one chihuahua. Toddlers screamed. Evacuees recounted the day’s horrors.
Amid the chaos, Red Cross workers circled like doting chaperones, carrying cots on their heads, doling out plastic baggies of candy and making sure everyone had the new sweatpants that fit them best. Strangers gathered around phone-charging stations. A mass of volunteers convened in the lobby, ready to assist.
And by the bathroom stood Estella Aguilar, 87 and 4-foot-6, wearing a red cashmere sweater and carrying a handbag. She’d arrived alone from her home in the city’s Second Ward after learning that Buffalo Bayou threatened to flood her out. “I can’t swim,” she said, “never learned.”
Ms. Aguilar surveyed the scene. “Everything is special when you’re in this predicament,” she said, rubbing her heart and watching the volunteers. “I love it. You see people helping other people.”
Arelis Vallecilla, her husband Chad Stearns and their six school-age children bedded down for the night in the convention center, after rising flood waters destroyed their home, their truck and virtually all their possessions. They woke Monday morning to find water had risen to the level of the mattresses they slept on.
“We lost everything,” said Ms. Vallecilla, 38. “We don’t know where we’re going to go and what happens next,” she said.
Reporting was contributed by Richard Pérez-Peña from New York, Julie Turkewitz from Houston, and Glenn Thrush and Julie Hirschfeld Davis from Washington.
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