Harvey Updates: Cities Gear Up to Take In Storm Victims From Texas Coast – New York Times
The rains from Tropical Storm Harvey pounded the Houston region on Monday, stranding thousands of residents — many on rooftops — awaiting rescue. Floodwaters are expected to continue rising for days.
Many turned to social media to get help: “My sister needs help!!!” read one tweet, followed by an address. Officials scrambled to reach stranded people, urging boat owners to pitch in on an enormous and frantic rescue. And with nearly two feet of rain still expected, the authorities worried the worst was yet to come. Here’s the latest:
• With record floodwaters, more than 450,000 people are likely to seek federal aid, 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.
• Some 100,000 customers in the Houston area are without power, Floyd LeBlanc of CenterPoint Energy said. Repair crews have had trouble getting through the floodwaters.
• On Monday, local officials said the death toll had risen to 10 from five.
“In Harris County, we have six deaths that are potentially flood related,” said Tricia Bentley, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, which serves as both a medical examiner’s office and crime lab. Officials also reported one death each in Rockport and La Marque, and two in Montgomery County.
• More than 30 inches of rain has fallen on parts of the Houston area since Thursday, the National Weather Service reported, causing catastrophic flooding that officials have called the worst in the state’s history.
• Harvey turned back out to sea on Monday, with the center of the storm reaching the Gulf of Mexico south of Houston, the National Hurricane Center reported. It was expected to move to the northeast, along the Gulf coast toward far eastern Texas and southwest Louisiana.
• Times journalists chronicled the unfolding disaster: We’re sharing a 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 Times correspondents tracking the storm on Twitter: @mannyNYT, @alanblinder, @julieturkewitz and @ckrausss in Houston, @jackhealyNYT and @David_Philipps in San Antonio, and @jswatz in New Orleans. Some highlights are here. Some of their tweets are collected here. In comments, Times readers shared expressions of shock, sympathy and encouragement. Read them 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.
Rescues of people stranded by floodwaters continued 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 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 to 12,000 from about 3,000.
The city of Dallas is opening a “mega-shelter” to house up to 5,000 evacuees from the battered Gulf Coast, and Mayor Mike Rawlings said on Monday the North Texas city has been asked to brace for “numbers that could be up in the tens of thousands.” In Fort Worth, 30 miles west of Dallas, Mayor Betsy Price said city officials are also preparing to activate shelters once the state requests assistance.
In San Antonio, empty warehouses were being readied as shelters for 4,100 evacuees.
Dallas officials said the city began making arrangements to convert its convention center into a giant shelter after a request from state officials. The city is already operating shelters at three local recreation centers, and Mayor Rawlings said city officials would consider other sites in Dallas and the surrounding county. — JULIE TURKEWITZ in Houston and DAVID MONTGOMERY in Austin.
Waterlogged and abandoned cars are everywhere.
The cars, it seemed, were everywhere, abandoned with few clues as to how their drivers had escaped or what became of those people afterward.
As Harvey continued to unleash itself on Houston, abandoned vehicles became eerie symbols of the storm’s destruction.
Cars sat half-smashed on the side of the road and alone in muddy fields. A red sedan was trapped in a road-turned-river in the Galleria area. A cluster of trucks and S.U.V.s were stuck in a highway-turned-lake on U.S. 59 East.
By one highway ramp, a black vehicle sat surrounded by water, stopped like a dead whale. On an opposite ramp, a semitrailer sat contorted, its front cab facing right in a turn that never fully happened. — JULIE TURKEWITZ in Houston
Trump on federal aid: ‘I think you’re going to be in fantastic shape.’
At a news conference with President Sauli Niinisto of Finland, President Trump said he had spoken with Governor Abbott. He said he expected to receive formal requests for federal aid “very soon,” and predicted that Congress would approve them “very, very quickly.”
“I think you’re going to be in fantastic shape,” Mr. Trump said. He marveled at the size of the storm, saying: “Nobody’s ever seen anything like it. I’ve heard the word ‘epic.’ I’ve heard ‘historic.’ That’s what it is.” Read more »
A refinery shutdown raises concerns of higher gasoline prices.
Harvey so far has caused at least eight refineries in Texas to shut down.
The AAA said gasoline was selling for $2.37 a gallon on average across the country, four cents more than a week ago.
Whether prices rise further depends on the damage ultimately sustained by refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast area, said Jeanette Casselano, an AAA spokeswoman. “The situation is still pretty fluid,” she said.
The affected refineries represent about 12 percent of the nation’s refining capacity, according to a report by Goldman Sachs.
Ms. Casselano noted that oil companies had ample stocks of oil and gasoline, which should limit the chances of immediate shortages. “Throughout the country we have high levels of supplies,” she said. “There’s a lot of gasoline in bulk storage in Houston, but right now you can’t get to it.”
Lining up to get boats in the water.
An exit ramp on Beltway 8, a freeway that encircles Houston, has become an impromptu boat ramp.
Coast Guard vehicles, state troopers in sport utility vehicles and a raft of amateur rescuers in trucks used the ramp as a kind of staging area, backing trailers into the floodwaters and sending boats speeding off toward houses in the distance, in a flooded area opposite the Sheldon Reservoir a few miles from Bush Intercontinental Airport.
John Malbrough, 35, steered his 14-foot ski boat through the waters and tied up at the side of the ramp and took a smoke break. He said he had lost count of how many men, women and children he had ferried over to the ramp from the flooded houses.
“There’s probably 50 boats out there, and everybody’s just running back and forth grabbing people — families, individuals, old people, dogs, cats,” said Mr. Malbrough, a mechanic with a shaved head and tattoo-covered arms who lives in nearby Humble. “I’m out of gas now — I’ve got to go get some gas and come back.” — MANNY FERNANDEZ in Houston
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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