Rescuers Start Block-By-Block Search Of Flooded Houston

Rescuers began a block-by-block search of tens of thousands of Houston homes Thursday, pounding on doors and shouting as they looked for anyone — alive or dead — who might have been left behind in Harvey’s fetid floodwaters, which have now heavily damaged more than 37,000 homes and destroyed nearly 7,000 statewide.

More than 200 firefighters, police officers and members of an urban search-and-rescue team fanned out across the Meyerland neighborhood for survivors or bodies. They yelled “fire department!” as they pounded with closed fists on doors, peered through windows and checked with neighbors. The streets were dry but heaped with soggy furniture, carpet and wood.

“We don’t think we’re going to find any humans, but we’re prepared if we do,” said District Chief James Pennington of the Houston Fire Department.

The confirmed death toll stood at 31, though it is expected to rise. But by midday, the temporary command center in a J.C. Penney parking lot had received no reports of more bodies from the searches, which are expected to take up to two weeks.

Unlike during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in New Orleans, crews used GPS devices to log the homes they checked rather than spray painting neon X’s on the homes, which also avoided alerting potential thieves to vacant homes.

Elsewhere, the loss of power at a chemical plant set off explosions that prompted a public health warning. The blasts at the Arkema Inc. plant northeast of Houston also ignited a 30- to 40-foot flame and sent up a plume of acrid smoke that the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency initially described as “incredibly dangerous.”

FEMA later backed away from that statement, saying that Administrator Brock Long spoke out of an abundance of caution. An Environmental Protection Agency analysis of the smoke showed that it posed no immediate threat to public health, the agency said.

The French operator of the plant warned that up to eight more chemical containers could burn and explode as chemicals stored there degraded without refrigeration.

The latest statewide damage surveys revealed the staggering extent of the destruction. The figures from the Texas Department of Public Safety did not include the tens of thousands of homes with minor damage.

Rescues continued, as did the search for shelter among people made homeless by the storm. Emergency officials reported 32,000 people in shelters across Texas.

The Harris County FEMA director said the agency was looking at how to house people who have lost their homes to Harvey. The priority is to get them out of shelters and into some form of temporary housing, with hotels being one option, he said.

“Right now nothing is off the table,” Tom Fargione said Thursday. “This is a tremendous disaster in terms of size and scope. I want to get thinking beyond traditional methodologies you’ve seen in the past.”

As the water receded in the nation’s fourth-largest city, the threat of major damage from the storm shifted to a region near the Texas-Louisiana state line.

Beaumont, Texas, with a population of nearly 120,000, struggled with rising water. The city lost water service after its main pump station was overwhelmed by the swollen Neches River. That forced Baptist Beaumont Hospital to move patients to other facilities.

A steady stream of ambulances and helicopters arrived at the hospital to pick up the patients, some of whom already had been removed from flooded nursing homes. Hospital spokeswoman Mary Poole said other patients were able to be discharged.

The city’s second hospital, Christus St. Elizabeth, said it was using stored water and accepting only critical and emergency patients.

Some people who had not gotten the word were still arriving Thursday seeking medical attention, including J.D. Clark, who said he had a heart condition. He wanted medicine and water but was turned away. Clark said the landlord had turned off the power at his apartment complex.

“We’re trying to get up out of here,” said his wife, Regina Blackburn. “I’m trying to call for a hotel, but they won’t answer. We’re leaving. We’re getting out of Beaumont.”

That’s a challenge, though, because most of the highways out of the city are flooded.

Economists said the storm shut down everything from plastics plants to oil refineries to the Houston port — the second-busiest in the nation — which could affect the nation’s economy.

Macroeconomic Advisers, a forecasting firm, calculates that economic damage could shave between 0.3 and 1.2 percentage points off the nation’s economic growth in the July-September quarter. The economy had been expected to grow at an annual rate of about 3 percent from July through September.

Also Thursday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he would release 500,000 barrels of crude oil from an emergency stockpile in a bid to prevent gasoline prices from spiking in the wake of disruptions caused by Harvey.

As the floodwaters dropped, Houston public schools pushed back the start of classes by two weeks because of Harvey. The nation’s seventh-largest school district had been scheduled to open Monday, but classes will now resume Sept. 11.

Although it has been downgraded to a tropical depression, Harvey was still expected to dump heavy rain on parts of Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky through Friday. Forecast totals ranged from 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters), with some places possibly getting up to a foot.

For much of the Houston area, the rain had passed. But with temperatures likely to climb in to the low 90s over the weekend, residents were warned about the dangers of heat exhaustion, especially for people who lost power or must toil outdoors.

Houston’s two major airports were slowly resuming full service. Limited bus and light rail service had also been restored, as well as trash pickup.

Harvey initially came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane in Texas on Friday, then went back out to sea and lingered off the coast as a tropical storm for days, inundating flood-prone Houston.

Harvey’s five straight days of rain totaled close to 52 inches, the heaviest tropical downpour ever recorded in the continental U.S.

Live Updates: Blasts at Plant in Crosby, Texas, Underscore Worries About Storm Damage

A series of small explosions shook a chemical plant northeast of Houston on Thursday and more blasts were expected, after floodwaters shut down the cooling systems that kept the chemicals stable. It was one of a host of new dangers emerging in the aftermath of Harvey, once a Category 4 hurricane, as floodwaters receded in many Houston neighborhoods and the storm moved through northeastern Louisiana and into Mississippi.

In a region dotted with chemical factories, oil refineries, natural gas plants, and other potential sources of combustion and toxins, the explosions at the Arkema plant near Crosby, Tex., underscore the worries that many people have about the lingering dangers that damage from the storm, which was downgraded to a tropical depression on Wednesday night, poses to the region’s infrastructure, economy and health.

It appeared that the health and safety risk from the plant was limited; Houston Methodist San Jacinto hospital in Baytown treated 21 first responders for chemical exposure, decontaminating them and then discharging them. The area within 1.5 miles of the plant was evacuated, but it is sparsely populated.

The plant produces chemicals called organic peroxides, and Rich Rennard, an Arkema executive, said that smoke from the blasts was “noxious,” an irritant to the lungs, eyes and possibly skin, but he would not say whether it could be called toxic. A total of eight containers at the plant lost refrigeration and can be expected to detonate as the chemicals in them decompose, officials said, but they could not predict how soon others would explode.

In Beaumont, about 70 miles east-northeast of Houston, flooding shut down the system that supplies running water to the entire city on Thursday, prompting a hospital to evacuate. With most roads in and out of the area under water, and the Neches River still rising, federal officials are trying to get enough bottled water into Beaumont to prevent a health crisis.

In Houston, officials ordered mandatory evacuation of areas around the Barker Reservoir, as flooding from that overwhelmed basin, and the nearby Addicks Reservoir, continued to pour into neighborhoods on the city’s western edge. In other parts of the city, floodwaters receded, exposing countless losses and new hazards, like ruined and abandoned vehicles blocking roads, damaged electrical systems, and mold.

Here is more on the latest:

Local officials said there were at least 38 deaths in Texas so far that were related or suspected to be related to the storm. Officials throughout southeast Texas said they were prepared for that number to inch higher as floodwaters began to recede.

Vice President Mike Pence and other cabinet officials were visiting the Corpus Christi, Tex., area on Thursday to meet with storm survivors.

President Trump plans to donate $1 million of his own money to help storm victims in Texas and Louisiana, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Thursday afternoon.

Tom Bossert, the White House official spearheading the administration’s response to the storm, on Thursday estimated that 100,000 houses in Texas and Louisiana have been damaged or destroyed — and said Mr. Trump will seek billions in aid in the coming weeks.

More than 30,000 people remained in shelters in the region, and Houston fire officials said they would begin the painstaking search of homes in the city to make sure no one was left behind. The process could take up to two weeks. “The shelter mission is the biggest battle that we have right now,” said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA also reported that 95,745 people in Texas have been approved for emergency assistance, which includes financial help with rent, repairs and lost property. The agency has so far disbursed about $57 million to citizens in Texas.

The police in Houston rescued 18 people overnight, Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Twitter on Thursday morning. The mayor also said there had been no arrests or citations for breaking the city’s curfew for the second night in a row.

What went wrong at the chemical plant?

The plant’s owner, Arkema, said the site had been without power since Sunday and the water was six feet deep in some areas. But the organic peroxides stored there need to be refrigerated or they become unstable. With a storage warehouse warming up, the crew transferred the chemicals to diesel-powered refrigerated trailers.

Then the backup generators designed to keep refrigeration units operating were flooded as well. The units apparently warmed to the point where the chemicals exploded overnight.

The chemicals, which are used in making plastic and other materials, start to decompose as they warm, which creates more heat and can quickly lead to a rapid, explosive reaction. Some organic peroxides also produce flammable vapors as they decompose.

Mr. Rennard said that Arkema employees had no plans to enter the site until the water had significantly receded, given the instability of the chemicals there. The blasts were not expected to affect chemicals in other parts of the plant, he said, and the company was able to monitor the status of the containers remotely.

“We’re not going to put anyone in harm’s way to try to restore refrigeration,” he said.

Pence: ‘The American people are with you.’

Vice President Mike Pence and several cabinet officials arrived to a sunny, hot and humid Corpus Christi, Tex., around midday on Thursday before heading to nearby Rockport to speak with victims of the storm.

“The American people are with you,” he told a crowd in Rockport, outside a church that was damaged by the storm. “We are here today, we will be here tomorrow and we will be here every day until this city and this state and this region rebuild bigger and better than ever before.”

About 21,000 federal workers have been mobilized in response to the storm and Congress is expected to debate passage of a multibillion-dollar emergency aid package in the coming weeks.

Mr. Pence said that he had spoken with Mr. Trump by phone from Air Force Two earlier in the day and asked if he had any words for survivors of the storm. “He just said ‘Just tell them we love Texas,’” Mr. Pence said.

Mr. Trump, who visited the area earlier in the week, is expected to return to Texas on Saturday. Mr. Pence was joined in Texas by the secretaries of homeland security, energy, transportation, veterans affairs and labor.

Beaumont is running out of water, and a hospital is evacuating.

With a record-breaking flood sweeping through Beaumont, taps there ran dry Thursday morning, and officials there said they could not predict when homes and businesses in the city of almost 120,000 residents would have running water again.

The city manager, Kyle Hayes, said at a midday news conference that he would not be able to assess flood damage to the city’s water pumps, or give a timeline for fixing them, until water began to recede, which he said would happen no earlier than Saturday. He added that the city was working on setting up bottled water distribution centers.

Lack of drinking water poses a survival risk for people trapped in the city, and Mr. Long, in his morning update, said that it was of particular concern to FEMA, which would look to distribute water. But Harvey dropped 47 inches of rain in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, and most roads into the cities remain impassable, making relief shipments of bottled water difficult.

Executives at Baptist Beaumont Hospital decided to evacuate because of the water shutdown. The hospital began to transport most of its 193 patients by ambulance and helicopter to hospitals outside the city, and to discharge those who could safely go home, said Mary Poole, a hospital spokeswoman.

Christus Southeast Texas-St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont decided not to evacuate, but until the city water supply resumes, it will only admit new patients who need critical or emergency care. The hospital, which has 256 patients, told nonessential employees not to report for work.

Beaumont’s water comes from two pumping plants, a primary one on the Neches River, and a secondary one drawing from wells north of the city, Mr. Hayes said. But both were inundated, and by Thursday morning, the pumps were out of action. The Beaumont Police Department posted pictures of the flooded main pumping station on its Facebook account.

City officials made it clear that Beaumont was in the early stages of dealing with the flooding, and did not provide details of the number of dead, or how many people had been rescued or were in shelters.

Our reporter Rick Rojas is in Beaumont, his hometown. Read more about his journey home here.

‘So much despair,’ one evacuee says.

At the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston’s main shelter, evacuees have been learning of deaths from social media and from watching news reports on an enormous projection screen.

“Part of me wants to just break down crying because it’s so much despair,” said Billy Cartwright, a construction worker who has been staying at the convention center since Monday. “I feel pretty grateful, but part of me’s pretty sad. It’s pretty bad.”

Mr. Cartwright, 44, said he believed he had lost all of his possessions to the flood.

“I try to think that when all of this passes, just like any other tragedy, America always bounces back,” he said.

The flooding threat has not passed.

The rain continued across the far eastern part of Texas and the western part of Louisiana on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, even as the storm lost power as it moved northeast.

Flash flood warnings were in effect in East Texas, the lower Mississippi Valley and in the western parts of the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys, where the storm was expected to spread over the next several days. Some rivers in southeastern Texas remained at record levels Thursday — some were still rising and setting more records — as the deluge made its way downstream, and swollen reservoirs released some water into streams.

Near the Louisiana border, the Neches River at Beaumont rose on Thursday to more than five feet above its previous record — more than 14 feet above flood stage — and it was projected to keep rising through Friday. Beaumont has received about 47.35 inches of rain since the storm first arrived.

At two flood gauges in the suburbs west of Houston, the Buffalo Bayou remained two to three feet above the old record for the fourth straight day, nine to 11 feet above flood stage, and it was not expected to drop for several days. Southwest of Houston, the Brazos River at Richmond broke its flooding record on Thursday, reaching 10 feet above flood stage, and was not expected to crest until Friday.

A Houston school district delays reopening as Austin offers help.

After initially saying schools would open on Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Houston Independent School District announced Thursday that classes would not resume until Monday, Sept. 11. Superintendent Richard Carranza said more than 10 percent of the city’s schools sustained water damage or had lost power.

Families have reported that they lost hundreds of dollars’ worth of new school supplies and clothing in the storm. The district also announced, via Twitter, that uniform rules would be relaxed through January. Houston public school students will have access to three free meals per day, regardless of family income, for the duration of the 2017-2018 school year.

Also on Thursday, officials in Austin announced plans to open their classrooms to potentially hundreds of displaced students whose families have fled there to move in with relatives or seek refuge in shelters.

“We want them to know we have their back,” Mayor Steve Adler said. “They’re welcome in our town and there is a place for them in our schools.”

School officials have been circulating through shelters to advise families from storm-battered southeast Texas that their children will be able to enroll in Austin schools as early as this week, said Paul Cruz, superintendent of the Austin Independent School District.

At least 100 students staying in the shelters have signaled their interest in attending. The students are also being invited to attend any of the district’s Friday night football games, he said.

Port Aransas is trying to get back on its feet.

When 120 m.p.h. winds lashed this beach town where Hurricane Harvey made landfall, they smashed some things and spared others. Houses were pushed off their foundations, while shacks next door were spared. Big trees stood as small trees toppled.

At Spanky’s Liquor on the main street, the windows shattered, the walls collapsed. “The roof? It’s about 100 feet that way,” the owner, Tom Hamilton, said as he paused from sweeping the pieces and pointed toward a house with a boat capsized against the porch and a surfboard lodged in a tree.

But miraculously, nearly every bottle of liquor was still intact on the shelves, now standing under an open sky.

On Wednesday — the first full day Mr. Hamilton had been allowed back to his store — a crew of employees packed boxes of bottles in the sun.

Like many on the island, Mr. Hamilton and his staff were beginning the long, often quiet ordeal of loss and recovery. Christy Lambert pulled out her phone to find a photo of her home in Aransas Pass, just across the bay. There was nothing left but a single kitchen wall. Most of her possessions had blown away.

“When I saw it, I cried, I cried for hours,” said Ms. Lambert, who fled the storm and returned Monday.

“I don’t really have anything but a few things I packed and $40,” she said. “It’s going to be hard to come back from that, but as long as I can keep working, I’ll be O.K.”

Legal aid lawyers are preparing for more cases.

Lawyers for the poor in Texas are expecting more cases in the wake of the storm, on matters including the denial of disaster relief claims by FEMA and landlord-tenant disputes.

David Hall, executive director of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, said his office, which is based in Austin, expects to handle an additional 15,000 client matters this year, on top of the 20,000 to 25,000 client cases it usually opens each year, and to field a 1,000 calls a day related to damage.

Live Updates : Waters Still Rising as Storm Pummels Region for 6th Day

With rivers still rising, and emergency workers still rescuing soaked and frightened people in southeast Texas who have lost nearly all they own, officials counseled patience on Tuesday, warning that conditions for many residents will not improve any time soon.

The slow-moving, record-shattering Harvey, now a tropical storm, pummeled the Houston region for a sixth straight day and began to batter southwest Louisiana. With hundreds of thousands of people under evacuation orders, shelters filled to bursting with people who craved some news about the safety of their loved ones and the state of their homes.

For now, the city’s focus “will continue to be on rescue,” and not on damage assessment — much less recovery — Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a news conference.

Here’s the latest:

The National Weather Service said Tuesday that Harvey has now set a record for total rainfall from a single tropical cyclone in the continental United States, with two weather stations in Texas reporting total rainfall over 48 inches.

Local officials said there were 13 deaths in Texas so far that were storm-related or suspected to be storm-related. Officials in Houston confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, died while driving to duty on Sunday.

The Houston Police Department has rescued more than 3,500 people from flooding since the storm began, Chief Art Acevedo said on Tuesday, up from about 2,000 a day earlier. The city fire chief, Samuel Peña, said his department had performed more than 400 rescues. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office did not have an updated figure on Tuesday, but said it was considerably higher than the roughly 2,200 rescues it reported on Monday.

President Trump is visiting Texas, having arrived in Corpus Christi before traveling to Austin, the state capital.

More rain is expected through Friday.

Parts of Houston have already been inundated by more than 40 inches, and totals could exceed 50 inches there and 20 inches in southern Louisiana. With sustained winds near 45 miles per hour, the storm is not expected to weaken until its center moves further inland early Wednesday.

As for the record rainfall, a station at Clear Creek, near Interstate 45 southeast of Houston, measured 48.64 inches of rain since Harvey began, and one at Mary’s Creek in Pearland, a suburb, recorded 49.32 inches. The amount of 48.00 inches was recorded in Medina, Tex., during Amelia, a tropical storm in 1978.

Weather service officials noted that storm is not over and that those numbers may soon surpass the overall United States record for total rainfall from a single cyclone. In Hawaii during Hurricane Hiki in 1950, 52.00 inches of rain were recorded at a ranger station on Kauai.

How much rain is that where you live? Check your city or zipcode, via The Upshot.

Trump visits Texas.

Mr. Trump arrived in Corpus Christi on Tuesday for a briefing on relief efforts, and then headed to Austin for a tour of an emergency operations center and a briefing with state leaders.

“It’s a real team, and we want to do it better than ever before,” Mr. Trump said of the response effort during a meeting with officials from local, state and federal agencies in a Corpus Christi firehouse. “We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it.” Read more about his visit here.

A Houston officer died trying to get to work.

Officials confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Sgt. Steve Perez, of the Houston Police Department, died in floodwaters Sunday on his way to work.

Mr. Perez, 60, left his home around 4 a.m. on Sunday and spent at least 2.5 hours trying to make his way to work, Chief Art Acevedo said. After having not heard from Sergeant Perez, officials began searching for him on Monday. A dive team found his body early Tuesday morning,

“Unfortunately, in the darkness, Sergeant Perez drove onto an underpass,” Chief Acevedo said.

Long lines formed outside Houston’s main shelter.

In the early afternoon on Tuesday, scores of people waited under occasional raindrops, hoping to enter the George R. Brown Convention Center, where more than 9,000 people had been taken in. A pile of wet American Red Cross blankets sat near the end of one line, where most people waited quietly.

On Sunday and Monday, evacuees had been able to enter the sprawling complex with few, if any, delays. The convention center was far thicker with people on Tuesday and, it appeared, more organized.

But there were some signs that the shelter was growing more strained. Some people set up bedding in the main corridor — an area that had been mostly empty a day earlier — and said they had moved from the increasingly crowded main dormitory.

Nathan Malbrue, who was sitting on the edge of an inflatable mattress, said he was not bothered by the growing crowd. He said he was in the hallway, near a medical station, because of a heart condition. “Just bring everybody in,” he said. “This is a big building.”

But Cora Watson, 58, feared that the convention center would be overwhelmed. “Move them to hotels or something,” she said, her voice barely audible.

A levee breach threatens a village near Houston.

A levee designed to protect the community of Columbia Lakes, 40 miles southwest of Houston, from the Brazos River was breached Tuesday morning, Brazoria County officials said.

Columbia Lakes is a small resort village with a country club and golf course, and is surrounded by levees. Residents were ordered to “GET OUT NOW!!” according to a Twitter message, although many had already left after a mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday.

Tom MacNeil, an owner of a real estate brokerage in the town, said that residents who were still there told him the breach occurred in a levee alongside a creek that flows into the Brazos. Because the Brazos is rising, the creek backed up and poured through two low spots on the levee. The residents shored up the low spots and there was no water in the streets, Mr. MacNeil said.

But the National Weather Service has forecast that the Brazos, currently just above flood stage at 30 feet, will rise another few feet by Wednesday and go over the levees, which are at 32 feet.

“That’s the scary part we’re watching for,” Mr. MacNeil said.

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.

After Harvey, Two More Tropical Storms, Irma And Jose, Aren’t Far Behind

Hurricane Harvey continues to cause widespread flooding and damages across Southeast Texas and Louisiana, and before the system has a chance to move on, two more tropical systems are brewing.

The next possible tropical storm is off the coast of North Carolina and what the National Hurricane Center is currently calling “Potential Tropical Storm Ten.”

Harvey was able to rapidly intensify into a Category 4 hurricane because it moved across exceptionally warm waters and experienced no wind shear.

The storm system on the East Coast has more of an uphill battle. The warmer waters are there, but there’s a lot of shear, which could rip the storm apart before it has a chance to form.

Current forecast models give the storm about a 50-50 chance to become Tropical Storm Irma. Whether it forms or not, North Carolina are still under tropical storm warnings and can expect heavy rain and gusty winds.

Another system, currently referred to as Invest 93L, is just off the coast of Africa, and that storm could become Tropical Storm Jose before the end of the week.

Invest 93L has become better organized in the past day or so, and it keeps growing and intensifying as it moves across the Atlantic.

BREAKING NEWS: Catastrophic Flooding ‘Beyond Anything Experienced’

The worst fears of flooding have been realized with Harvey. Close to three feet of rain has already fallen in Southeast Texas, and there’s still more to come. It’s the most extreme rainfall the region has ever witnessed.

“Catastrophic flooding in the Houston metropolitan area is expected to worsen,” said Patrick Blood of the National Weather Service on Sunday. It added: “This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced.”

On Sunday evening, brand new bands of torrential rain were forming southwest of Houston and appeared on-track to strike the city overnight. Rainfall rates will almost certainly exceed three inches per hour over the already-submerged city. That threat prompted the National Weather Service to re-issue the flash flood emergency  –  the strongest flood warning it can issue  –  in effect through around 1 a.m. Central Time.

FULL ARTICLE – CLICK HERE

 

Two-day rainfall totals have reached or exceeded 20 inches across the entire Houston metro area. Some locations are approaching 30 inches. The swift inundation of water has turned rivers, bayous and streams into lakes – including those that run through the city of Houston itself.

“I know for a fact this is the worst flood Houston has ever experienced,” Patrick Blood, Weather Service meteorologist, told the Houston Chronicle.

The Weather Service said this August had become Houston’s wettest month in recorded history due to the storm. At the Weather Service office serving Houston in Dickinson, Tex. 24.1 inches of rain fell 24 hours.

The Weather Service said the “majority” of rivers and bayous around Houston were at record levels. Some were exceeding previous records by 10 feet.

Rainfall from Harvey in Harris County, the third most populous in the country and home to Houston, had exceeded the amount from Tropical Storm Allison, in half the amount of time (two to three days, rather than five, the Weather Service said Sunday afternoon. Prior to Harvey, Tropical Storm Allison was considered the worst flood on record in the Houston region.

The onslaught will continue into the week. Harvey is forecast to remain parked over Southeast Texas through at least Tuesday, pummeling the region with more rain bands .

The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center is calling for an additional 15 to 25 inches of rain over the middle and upper Texas coast, including the Houston area, during the next several days. The National Hurricane Center said isolated storm rainfall totals could reach 50 inches, which would rival some of the most extreme rain events in U.S. history and break the state rainfall record in Texas.

A relentless band of heavy rain sat nearly stationary over Houston and its surrounding suburbs Saturday night. By Sunday morning, the effects of hour after hour of drenching rainfall started to take their toll, with widespread reports of high water on roadways. Bands of heavy rain continued to pivot through the Houston area Sunday afternoon but became somewhat more intermittent.

The National Weather Service did not mince words about the danger of this unprecedented situation. The office issued multiple flash-flood emergencies, which extended into Sunday evening, shattering the precedent for issuance of such warnings locally.

At least five deaths have already been blamed on the storm, and over 1,000 water rescues have taken place in the Houston area as of Sunday afternoon. Local officials are pleading with the general public to not travel and to make sure they access their roof if the water rises too high in their homes rather than shelter in their attic.

“This disaster’s going to be a landmark event,” Brock Long, FEMA administrator, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “This is a storm that the United States has not seen yet.”

So much rain has fallen that is has been extremely hard for first responders to keep up with the growing onslaught of rescue requests.

“We are facing a catastrophic multi-billion-dollar loss,” tweeted Steve Bowen, a meteorologist at Reinsurer Aon Benfield.

Perhaps even more frightening, computer model forecasts are showing the very real possibility that Harvey will move back over the Gulf of Mexico Monday night and Tuesday, when it could re-strengthen modestly. It may make a second landfall near Houston on Wednesday, with rain continuing into Thursday and even Friday.

In addition to the heavy rain, embedded thunderstorms have spawned more than a dozen tornadoes across the region, adding to the list of hazards brought on by Harvey. In fact, the Weather Service had issued more tornado warnings on (each of) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday than on any previous single day on record, for a total of 123 warnings.

This storm is unfortunately breaking all the wrong precedents. Things will only continue to get worse over the next 24 to 48 hours as more areas of the region receive overwhelming amounts of water with nowhere for it to go.

BREAKING NEWS: Hurricane ‘Harvey’ Escalates to Cat. 4 – Another Volcano Erupts

Hurricane ‘Harvey’ now Category 4, has begun to pound the Texas coast and its millions of residents, with hurricane-force winds knocking down trees, power poles and signs, and with torrential rain deluging streets. The storm surge, downpours and harsh winds are already pummeling the shores. In its 9 p.m. ET update, the National Hurricane Center said the eye wall, the most dangerous part of the storm, has begun to move onshore along the middle Texas coast.

The hurricane center warns that some areas will see as much as 13 feet of storm surge and large, destructive waves. Maximum sustained wind speeds were at 130 mph on Friday night. And there’s the rain that the slow-moving storm is expected to produce. Because it is expected to come to a near halt inland, Harvey could drop as much as 40 inches of rain in some places, and up to 30 inches in others, by Wednesday. The combination of wind and water could leave wide swaths of South Texas “uninhabitable for weeks or months,” the National Weather Service in Houston said.

BREAKING NEWS: Coast Rica ‘Poas’ Volcano Erupts

The Poás Volcano in Alajuela, Costa Rica began its eruption today starting at 3:17p.m. local time. The eruption blasted soot and ash which elevated around 500 meters above the crater, 3,100 meters (2 miles) above sea level according to the report by the National Seismology Network and Dr. Mauricio Mora.

This new eruption comes at a time where the National System of Areas of Conservation (SINAC) has been evaluating the possibility of reactivating tourism to the area through controlled visitations to the National Park following certain security protocols. A team of experts continue monitoring the volcano and evaluating the situation.

I wish to thank you for your continued support….. Cheers, Mitch

 

Coming Next: More Earth Changing Events to Occur. Civil Disturbance Appears to Continue Escalation.

Texas Prepares For ‘Catastrophic’ Flooding As Hurricane Harvey Bears Down On The Gulf Coast

Residents along a vast swath of the Texas coast scrambled for shelter and stocked up on emergency supplies as Hurricane Harvey crept closer to shore Friday, threatening lashing rains and winds exceeding 110 mph in what could be the first major hurricane to hit the mainland United States in 12 years.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested a federal disaster declaration in advance of the worst of the storm, which he warned is expected to be a “very complex and dangerous” hurricane that could bring devastating flooding along the middle Texas coast over the weekend.

“It’s a hurricane that’s going to prove more dangerous than many hurricanes,” Abbott said. “We are going to be dealing with immense, really record-setting flooding in multiple regions across the state of Texas.”

Harvey is projected to make landfall near Corpus Christi late Friday or early Saturday. A hurricane warning is in effect along a wide stretch of the coastline from Port Mansfield to Sargent, spanning a region home to about 4 million people. An additional 12 million, many in the major cities of Houston and San Antonio, are under a tropical storm warning.

Heavy bands of rain began pounding the coast near Galveston on Friday afternoon as a stream of vehicles flowed out of the seaside resort city.

Few people were still out on the roads as the hurricane approached and the area fell under a tornado warning, with some drivers taking shelter in the lobbies of area hotels that have remained open.

The National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi cautioned that the extreme rainfall could be “devastating to catastrophic,” and that the current threat to life and property was “extreme.” Rivers and tributaries could overflow their banks and streets and parking lots become “rivers of raging water with underpasses submerged,” the weather service said.

A major hurricane poses the first major test of emergency response for the Trump administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new administrator, Brock Long, who was confirmed in June.

President Trump plans to travel to Texas next week, and the White House is considering having him declare a federal emergency before Hurricane Harvey makes landfall on the Gulf Coast. Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert told reporters at a news briefing Friday that federal officials had significantly improved their ability to respond to natural disasters since Hurricane Katrina caused widespread flooding in New Orleans in 2005.

If all the conditions for an emergency declaration were met, Bossert said he believed the “President is going to be very aggressive in leaning forward and declaring it a disaster.”

“This is right up President Trump’s alley,” he added. “His questions were: ‘Are you doing what it takes to help the people.”

Harvey intensified in the central Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning, reaching official Category 3 hurricane status by early afternoon. By 2 p.m. Friday, the storm was about 75 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, with sustained winds of nearly 120-mph winds, and moving northwest at about 10 mph.

After it makes landfall, Harvey is likely to slow down and meander near the coastline, dropping up to 35 inches of rain across some parts of Texas through Wednesday.

Harvey could be the first hurricane classified as at least Category 3 to hit the United States since Hurricane Wilma struck Florida in 2005. Last year, thousands of residents along the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts evacuated as Hurricane Matthew was forecast to hit the East Coast as a Category 4 hurricane. However, the hurricane veered east and weakened to a Category 2 as it skirted along the coast.

Historically, slow-moving tropical storms and hurricanes have caused some of Texas’ most severe flooding. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison hovered above the Houston area for days, dumping up to 30 inches of rain — as much as 80% of the area’s average annual rainfall over some neighborhoods.

The last hurricane to hit the Texas coast – Hurricane Ike, a Category 2 storm that wreaked havoc after making landfall in Galveston in 2008 – killed at least 37 people and resulted in more than $30 billion in damage.

Abbott urged residents of low-lying and coastal areas– even residents of Houston, where Mayor Sylvester Turner has not called for evacuations – to evacuate before Harvey makes landfall

“What you don’t know and what nobody else knows right now is the magnitude of flooding that will be coming,” he said.

At the Hertz car rental outside Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, arriving customers snapped up trucks and SUVs in preparation for the days of catastrophic rains projected to come.

After learning she was speaking to a journalist, one of the rental workers paused and asked, in a grim voice, “Do you think they’re telling the truth about how bad it’ll get?” Several other employees also stopped and craned their necks to listen.

Local officials and news outlets have had to bat down a viral social media message that circulated widely among Texans on Thursday warning that the storm would be far worse than officials were already predicting.

“Ignore unfounded, unsourced weather predictions that have needlessly frightened Houstonians,” Mayor Turner tweeted. “Get info from trusted outlets.”

Not everybody was running from the storm.

One married couple, Tom Miller, 48, an IT analyst, and Ron Marcus, 55, a food service manager, both of Bartlesville, Okla., had been watching the forecast for days and seen the hurricane coming toward Texas.

They decided to beat it to Galveston — where they had been planning to catch a cruise where Miller’s niece was expecting to get married. Veterans of tornado alley, they figured they could wait out a hurricane, with its weaker-than-a-tornado winds.

“We headed out last night and drove straight through [the night] to get here,” arriving around 4 a.m. Friday morning, said Miller.

“Of course, after getting here,” Miller added sheepishly, “It’s kind of growing in intensity.”

Along the southern edge of Galveston, foaming waves marched angrily toward the shore, where a TV cameraman and an anchor stood in the sand to record the oncoming wrath of the storm.

They weren’t alone. Three friends —James Hibberts, 19, of Clear Lake, Branden Castillo, 26, of Webster, and William Mead, 21, of Clear Lake — moseyed around nearby in the sand, barefoot, hoping to get on TV.

Like other sightseers that had not fled the area, they weren’t intimidated by the storm.

“Danger is not a factor in these parts,” Mead said, smiling, as the men’s shirts whipped around in the hurricane winds.

The men were hoping to skimboard on one of the main roads running along Galveston’s Gulf shoreline, but it hadn’t flooded yet.

Even they were amazed when they saw two surfers paddle out and try to ride the wrathful waves, which raged unpredictably toward the beach.

Regretfully, Mead said he couldn’t hang out all weekend. He has a job at Walmart. “I gotta work tomorrow,” he said.

After preemptively declaring a state of disaster for 30 Texas counties, Gov. Abbott on Thursday activated about 700 members of the state National Guard.

Mandatory evacuation orders are already in effect across seven coastal counties. Mayor Joe McComb of Corpus Christi, Texas’ eighth largest city with a population of about 325,000, has encouraged residents to leave voluntarily.

With Houston forecast to see up to 20 inches of rainfall, local officials there are readying evacuation boats and high-water rescue vehicles.

On Thursday, Houston’s Office of Emergency Management urged residents to stockpile enough water, food and medication for five to seven days, secure anything that could be picked up by strong winds, and park vehicles off the streets. The Houston Independent School District, the largest public school system in Texas, canceled all classes Monday on what would have been the first day of school.

Gas prices spiked as oil and gas operators shut down about 21% of oil production and 23% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Workers have been evacuated from four of the 10 rigs operating in the Gulf, as well as from 86 production platforms, about 11% of the Gulf’s staffed platforms.

In neighboring Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Thursday for the entire state.

“All arms of the state’s emergency preparedness and response apparatus are planning for the serious threat posed by Hurricane Harvey, and we are calling on all Louisianans throughout the state to do so as well,” Edwards said.

Just a few inches of rain could cause severe challenges in New Orleans, which is still recovering from flooding after thunderstorms earlier this month overwhelmed the city’s drainage system. On Thursday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged residents to prepare for 5 to 10 inches of rain.

With 105 out of 120 pumps operating in the city, Landrieu said, officials are “working around the clock” to repair drainage pumps and turbines.

“There is no need to panic, but there is need to be well-prepared,” Landrieu said.

Bossert said federal emergency officials had been in close contact with state managers in Texas and Louisiana and were assured that both states had made aggressive preparations.

“Now is not the time to lose faith in your government institutions,” Bossert told reporters.

“They all seemed to be well postured, and they didn’t report to us any additional needs. In fact, they all reported to us that they’re in the right operational posture to help the American people in the path of this storm.”

At the same time, he said federal officials were urging residents of both affected states to take responsibility for themselves.

“You never want to plan for the federal government to swoop in and provide everything that you need, when you need it, just on time, right? It’s going to be 4.6 million people, I guess, in the path of this storm, depending on how the forecast goes,” he said. “That’s a lot of people. We encourage people to be ready, be prepared, take some responsibility for their own safety as the next 72 hours unfold.”