HOUSTON, TX – Tragedy hit Houston and the Texas coast as hurricane Harvey swept through communities during the first week of September, a threat which also extended to New Orleans and Florida. The rainfall averaged six inches per hour totalling 50 inches of water; over nine trillion gallons. According to The Conversation, “one city southeast of downtown Houston recorded 13.84 inches of rain in three hours.”
According to the New York Times, 70 deaths have been recorded related to the storm. Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit four locations around Corpus Christi, Texas to meet and talk to storm survivors. 450,000 people have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance and 32,000 people are still in shelters. At one point, 100,000 people were without power, that number is now down to 75,000. Due to the extreme damage, 24,000 National Guard troops have also been deployed for recovery in Texas.
According to NPR, the Saldivars, Houston locals, experienced some of the most saddening and terrible events one could imagine. Their van was swept away into the flooding with seven family members present in the car. As soon as the flooding lowered, six of them were found dead. According to NBC news, the lone survivor, Sammy Salvidar, clung to a tree as he watched the van submerge into the water.
The floodwaters and widespread power outages are also endangering the Arkema chemical plant in Northeast Houston. Arkema president and chief executive Rich Rowe told Fox News, “We have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire.” At one point, there was six feet of water at the plant and all homes within 1.5 miles of the facility have been evacuated.
Some experts say that in order for people in the Texas area to fully recover it might take years, but strong relief efforts have already been put into place. FEMA’s mission is to restore hope to those affected and provide relief by starting the cleanup. Residents of the affected areas will receive help to clean up and begin repairs on their homes, although some will be too damaged for owners to return to any time soon. Texas Governor Greg Abbott claimed that the damage is worse than Hurricane Katrina’s back in 2005. He predicted that the cost for full recovery is going to be $180 billion.
Brock Long, the head of FEMA, told CBS that, “Harvey should be a lesson to state officials that they needed to set aside reserve funds for their own emergency management departments.” He also mentioned that these officials should not rely on the federal government to foot a lot of the bills.
Because of the devastation and cost of recovery from Hurricane Harvey, numerous relief organizations across the country have started to raise money to help those affected. Anyone can donate to places such as the Red Cross, retail stores, grocery stores and online relief organizations. Many of which will take donations and give them directly to the cause; but make sure to do your research, as some of these organizations are unfortunately scams.