Houston, Texas is America’s 4th largest city and in the past 2 days is enduring Tropical Storm Harvey, the worst storm to ever hit it in history. Certain parts of Houston were drenched with over 25 inches of rain and it is predicted that a total 55 inches will have fallen by Wednesday. According to the The National Hurricane Center certain places were flooded with at least 50 inches of rain, and some estimates say that a mind boggling 340 billion gallons of rainfall have already inundated the area.
If that wasn’t enough there was a tornado warning and houses were destroyed by tornadoes too. Many people were already waiting on their rooftops for rescue crews in flat bottomed boats and they had to lay low for fear of a tornado.
The Coast Guard as of last night did over 1000 rescues and 200 rescues by helicopter. In addition, volunteers with flat bottom boats came from around Texas to help in the rescue effort pulling people off of rooftops and from flooded houses. The rescue efforts are focused firstly on the elderly and infirm and families with young children.
The mayor of Houston did not issue evacuation orders to his residents as he maintains that more people get hurt in car crashes from these evacuations than from the storm itself. That is normally the case but this storm is more severe than predicted so only the future will say if he made the right decision. 54 out the 254 counties in Texas declared a state of emergency. Houston’s airport was shut down and 1,500 flights were cancelled. Most workplaces are closed and the schools will be closed for this week.
Seeing that the water level in local reservoirs are rising at a rate of a foot an hour, the Army Engineer Corps started releasing water from two major reservoirs the Addicks and Barker reservoirs near Houston. This may protect central Houston but it may also flood several thousand homes more homes than were already flooded. It will also raise the water levels in the Buffalo Bayou which flows right through Houston’s city center. However if they didn’t release the water the dams could potentially burst causing far more damage from uncontrolled waters raging through the residential areas and the city center.
FEMA said they will be involved in Texas for the next couple of years to help take care of the unprecedented damage to billions of dollars of property.