Hurricane Harvey

UPDATE: As Rescues Continue, Authorities Remind That The Storm is Not Over Yet

NOAA update weather conditions for the coming days.

Brays Bayou at Greens Road, in north Houston Sunday August 27, 2017

THE LATEST:

In a press conference Sunday night Judge Ed Emmett expressed gratitude at that large number of Houstonians who answered today’s earlier call for boats and high-water vehicles. While he didn’t have an exact number, he described the response as almost overwhelming. He also reinforced the message about staying home and not risking venturing out. “I’ll say it one more time,” Emmett stressed, “the problem with a rain event is we don’t know where the rain will fall, so therefore we cannot issue any warnings.”

As the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs continue to fill the Army Corps of Engineers and the Harris County Flood Control District held a media briefing earlier. They talked about two banks that have crested and are falling, they are South Mayde Creek at Greenhouse Road and Greens Bayou at US 59. Emmett said the Army Corp will ensure people who can’t evacuate in those areas will have help. They also discussed releasing some water from the reservoirs, while ensuring that it wouldn’t impact folks nearby. 

Pets will be allowed in shelters said Emmett after consulting with Mayor Turner. During Hurricane Katrina the Judge said this wasn’t the case and that was a mistake because people refused to leave their pets behind.  

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The National Weather Service is predicting more periods of heavy rain from bands coming off the Gulf in the coming days. Flash flood watches and warnings continue to be in effect for all of Southeast Texas. 

The trajectory of Tropical Storm Harvey right now is to drift southeast to Matagorda Bay, then turn and slowly move north through Southeast Texas. Tornado threats continue and minor coastal flooding is possible around high tide times through Wednesday. By Thursday NWS predicts the heavy rain threat should be over.  

Images from NOAA showing what’s happened and what’s to come in the next seven days.

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Water and not the flooding kind is a growing concern across Houston right now. Mayor Sylvester Turner was tweeting earlier on Sunday about the city’s water plant working at full capacity, quashing fears about quality. 

Meanwhile both Baytown and Missouri City were quick to dismiss their own water issues. Patti Jet, spokesperson for Baytown’s City Managers Office said that “Residents calling in saying they’re hearing from TV that Baytown Water is out. It is NOT. Our water system is fully functioning and the water is safe to use. Please help spread the word.” 

Missouri City Office of Emergency Management were quick to dispel rumors about water being shut off. “There are no reports at this time of water being shut off for anyone in Missouri City.”

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The Harris County Sheriff’s Office confirmed via Twitter that since the storm began, they’ve performed 1,500 – 2,000 high-water rescues. Spokesman Jason Spencer also said they’d evacuated some of their 911 dispatch call center team to another area in the building due to power outages. 

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In Montgomery County,  Judge Craig Doyal  warned residents to stay vigilant as the weather forecast predicts a potential of 6 to 10 inches of rain on Sunday night. “We are not over this storm”, he said.

 

On Sunday Texas Governor Greg Abbott said there’s more rainfall and tornadoes headed for Houston. However he emphasized that help is on the way for the Bayou City and Corpus Christi in the form of 3,000 national and service guards. The state has also activated 500 vehicles, 14 aircraft and close to 500 Texas DPS officers. Even neighboring states Louisiana and Florida are assisting the Texas/Houston/Galveston areas with water rescue missions. The total number of counties declared a disaster now stands at 50. 

The Governor recommended checking drivetexas.org for statewide road closures. As Harris County officials mentioned unprecedented rainfall earlier on Sunday, the Governor reinforced that the amount of rainfall will be historic, if not at an all time record. He says the “region needs to be ready for it.” 

Mandatory evacuations continue to be announced across the greater Houston region. Fort Bend County became the latest area to add their name to a growing list. which already includes Brazoria County. However, the evacuation will only apply to certain residents in low-lying areas surrounding the Brazos River says Fort Bend County Judge, Robert Hebert.

The National Weather Service (NWS) currently forecasts  record flood events on the Brazos River, with levels potentially reaching 56.1 feet, a projection nearly two feet above above the 2016 record.

“Harvey continues to batter Fort Bend County,” said County Judge Hebert. “Residents who flooded last year know how serious this situation is. I am issuing a mandatory evacuation for the potentially affected areas along the Brazos river and urge residents to take action now to protect themselves, their family, and their property.”

Fort Bend County ask that if you are a resident in the evacuation zones and you do not have transportation or a place to go – PLEASE CALL 211 and request assistance with the evacuation.

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Many of the people arriving at the George Brown Convention Center, which has been opened as a shelter for people fleeing flooding, are from a public housing complex about a mile north.

Clayton Homes public housing complex is bounded on one side by Interstate 45 and the other by Buffalo Bayou, which has flooded heavily along with all of Houston’s major waterways. Police are using boats to evacuate many of the residents and bring them to the convention center in pickup trucks.

D’Ona Spears and Brandon Polson walked with their five children Sunday, bags full of belongings, and their 7-year-old Chihuahua, Missy. They decided to leave once the water in the first story of their home reached their knees.

Spears says that when they made it to the convention center, they sent their children inside to eat, but stayed outside with their Chihuahua because animals were not allowed inside.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced earlier Sunday that the convention center would serve as a shelter for people fleeing the flooding.

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Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Oditt says helicopters have rescued more than 100 people in the Houston area as Tropical Storm Harvey floods numerous neighborhoods.

In a conference call Sunday with reporters, Oditt says Coast Guard personnel and aircraft from around the country have been dispatched to Texas. He says Texas Air National Guard choppers were also assisting with rescues. 

Oditt says people facing rising floodwaters should not go into attics, since rescuers in the air cannot see them. The incident commander urged people who head to their rooftops to wave sheets, towels or anything else to attract the attention of helicopter crews.

Coast Guard helicopter crews along the southern portion of the Texas coast are reporting the rescue of almost 40 people, starting from the morning before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. That includes six people rescued from their home Saturday evening in the hard-hit city of Aransas Pass. Among them were three children, their two parents and an elderly woman who was in need of oxygen.
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The National Weather Service now says some parts of Houston and just west of the city may receive a Texas record of 50 inches (1270 millimeters) of rain as Tropical Storm Harvey stalls over Texas.

NWS meteorologist Patrick Burke says rainfall totals will end up around 40 inches (1016 millimeters) or more for Houston on average, but some isolated spots will hit or exceed 50 inches. Burke says, “We’re in kind of unprecedented territory with this storm.”

Local rainfall amounts of 50 inches would exceed any previous Texas rainfall record. The NWS says in a statement that “the breadth and intensity of this rainfall is beyond anything experienced before and is resulting in catastrophic flooding.”

So far rainfall totals since Thursday evening have reached about 25 inches (635 millimeters) in south Houston. In Dayton, located 38 miles (61 kilometers) northeast of Houston, rainfall has already reached 27 inches (685 millimeter).

 

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Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said on Sunday that people rescued from flooded areas will be picked up and taken to shelters. The number is 713-4260-9504.

Help is on the way explained Emmett after speaking this morning to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, however he said the city can’t wait for that. That’s why Emmett is requesting those with boats or high-water vehicles to call 713-881-3100 to offer help. 

Harris County authorities stressed at a joint press conference the importance for residents to stay at home and only to communicate with emergency services, if they feel that their lives are in danger. “If you have a life-threatening emergency, a life-threatening ailment, dial 911. The phone lines are backed-up, we understand that,” emphasized Emmett. He suggested that if you needed information about services or shelters that the numbers to dial are 211 inside of Houston and 311 outside of the city. 

There are a number of shelters available

As surrounding areas continue to be inundated with rainfall after nearly 20 inches fell in some areas overnight, officials are imposing curfews. Both Pasadena and Pearland are asking residents to stay home from 10 PM tonight until 7 AM tomorrow. The curfew does not apply to emergency vehicles or any authorized vehicles. 

Throughout Sunday’s press conference Judge Emmett stressed that those who can be deployed for aid, have been and that they were prepared, but this event is unlike any other. “This is an unprecedented event…and keep in mind that the state of Texas got hit by a category four hurricane”, said Emmett.

The Texas Medical Center is also feeling the impact of the rainfall and after flooding in the basement, Ben Taub is in the process of being evacuated. Critical patients will be moved first and the rest will follow. 

Meanwhile residents are getting out between rain showers. In Montrose, 55-year-old Mike Molitor was walking the streets, in fishing waders and a raincoat. He says he’s lived in Houston for 35 years- and is aware of the dangers of storms like this. 

“I don’t know if you’ve been on the freeways. You can get on them, but you can’t get off. Anywhere in Houston. But people like this” as he points to cars travelling on Montrose Boulevard behind him, they try to get through it and it’s dangerous to everyone else. It’s dangerous to the first responders.” 

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The City of Houston says on Twitter that it’s 911 service is at maximum capacity.
 
Mayor Sylvester Turner is telling people to only call if there is truly a life-threatening emergency and a few inches of water inside a home doesn’t count.
 
By Sunday morning, parts of Houston have gotten as much as 20 inches of rain in 24 hours and the flooding has grown from the streets into homes.
 
The National Weather Service is advising people that if the highest floor of their home is flooded, don’t go into the attic, go onto the roof.
 
In the neighborhood of Montrose  Sunday morning, Andrés Chapa  said the flooding is the worst he’s seen in a while.
 
“Haven’t seen this much since about two years ago, but that time it wasn’t a hurricane. This time was pretty bad, and was almost up to our doorstep.” He says past storms have flooded his car twice on his neighborhood street. For now, he’s heeding the advice of authorities and staying put in his apartment. “Just bunker there – I have supplies for a couple days so, hopefully they’ll last a couple days.” 
 
Daniel Foss, 31, was standing outside of the HEB in Montrose. He was hoping to stock up, but the store was closed. He’s originally from Minnesota, and said he’s never seen flooding like this: “Flash flooding here is totally different than I grew up with. It’s crazy to see and I can’t imagine being on the roads or being the first responders who have to go out and answer all these emergency calls and things like that.”
 
David Schulz, 51, works at a church in the same area. He was riding his bike through the lower points of water, so he could get to the building to assess flood damage. “I definitely wouldn’t get in my car and go anywhere. Because I’m noticing that I can be in 6 inches of water and get to a corner and then I’m waist deep. You know, without any- just like that. So it’s very deceiving. Very deceiving.” 
 
He said he had to walk his bike through the waist-deep portions of the street.
 
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Authorities say rescue attempts continue in Houston for those stranded inside flooded homes and submerged vehicles in the wake of hurricane Harvey.

Hundreds of calls have been fielded for water rescues as of early Sunday, including Houston police officials who evacuated two apartment complexes and rescued more than 50 children. A woman who tried to get out of her vehicle in high water died in flooding in Harris County, though authorities had not confirmed a cause of death, said Gary Norman, a spokesman for the Houston emergency operations center.

“It breaks your heart,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said as he stood in waist-high water during a livestream post on Twitter. “But it’s Texas. We’ll get through it.”

Meanwhile, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Sunday continued urging residents via Twitter to “shelter in place” and stay off rain-swollen roadways.

Gonzalez actively used Twitter overnight to field assistance for those trapped inside water-soaked homes, attics and vehicles. Those appealing for assistance or being steered to help via Gonzalez’s Twitter feed included a person suffering “cardiac-arrest,” and a woman who posted: “I have 2 children with me and the, water is swallowing us up. Please send help.”

Gonzalez at one point appealed for calm and patience, saying officials were “trying to make it to everyone as best we can.”

Turner’s official Twitter account said “911 services at capacity. If u can shelter in place do so, a few inches in your home is not imminent danger. Only call if in imminent danger.”

Rescuers battling heavy downpours plucked hundreds of people from rising floodwaters left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, answering desperate calls for help all along the ravaged Texas coastline where at least two people were killed and up to 14 injured.

 

Anxiety ran high throughout the region between Corpus Christi and Houston because some of the most devastated areas were inaccessible to rescuers. And the forecast for days of steady rain threatened to inundate the region’s flat landscape, including Houston, with as much as 40 inches .

In the island community of Port Aransas, population 3,800, officials were unable to fully survey the town because of “massive” damage. Police and heavy equipment had only made it into the northernmost street.

“I can tell you I have a very bad feeling and that’s about it,” said Mayor Charles Bujan, who had called for a mandatory evacuation but did not know how many heeded the order.

Some of the worst damage appeared to be in Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was directly in the storm’s path. The mayor said his community took a blow “right on the nose” that left “widespread devastation,” including homes, businesses and schools that were heavily damaged. Some structures were destroyed.

Rockport’s roads were a mess of toppled power poles. A trailer blocked much of one major intersection. Wood framing from ripped-apart houses was strewn along Route 35 on the town’s southern end.

Harvey’s relentless wind tore the metal sides off the high school gym and twisted the steel door frame of its auditorium.
“We’re still in the very infancy stage of getting this recovery started,” said Aransas County spokesman Larry Sinclair.

One person was killed in Aransas County when in a fire at home during the storm, county Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr. said.
As many as 14 people suffered minor injuries, including slips and falls, scrapes and a broken leg, Mills said.

About 300,000 customers were without power statewide. Gov. Greg Abbott said it would probably be several days before electricity is restored.

Meanwhile, the storm was barely moving. Rainfall totals varied across the region, with Galveston receiving around 8 inches (20 centimeters), Houston 11 (28 centimeters) and Aransas 10 (25 centimeters). Tiny Austwell got 15 inches (38 centimeters).

Elsewhere in the storm’s immediate aftermath, the Coast Guard had rescued 20 people from boats and barges in distress, said Capt. Tony Hahn, commander of the Corpus Christi sector.

The Corpus Christi port was closed with extensive damage. Because the city is the third-largest petrochemical port in the nation, the agency will be on the lookout for spills, Hahn said.

The fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi as a mammoth Category 4 storm with 130 mph (209 kph) winds.

Harvey weakened to a tropical storm by midday Saturday.

By 7 a.m. Sunday, Harvey was centered about 65 miles southeast of San Antonio, with maximum sustained winds of about 45 mph (72.42 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center, which described the flooding as “catastrophic.”

The hurricane posed the first major emergency management test of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Trump met with his Cabinet and other senior administration officials to discuss the federal response to the damage and flooding, the White House said Saturday in a statement.

The president held a video conference from Camp David in which he instructed departments and agencies to “stay fully engaged and positioned to support his number one priority of saving lives,” the statement said.

Trump, who on Friday signed a federal disaster declaration for coastal counties, also reminded department heads that the full impact of the storm will not be apparent for days.

South of the city, about 4,500 inmates were evacuated from three state prisons in Brazoria County because the nearby Brazos River was rising.

The turbulent weather extended into southern Louisiana, where motorists were cautioned about the potential for high water, road hazards, high winds and tornadoes.

Harvey came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.

The storm’s approach sent tens of thousands of people fleeing inland.

Just hours before landfall, the governor and Houston leaders issued conflicting statements on evacuation.

The governor urged more people to flee, but Houston officials recommended no widespread evacuations, citing greater danger in having people on roads that could flood and the fact that the hurricane was not taking direct aim at the city.

The last Category 4 storm to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Charley in August 2004 in Florida.

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The National Hurricane Center says Harvey continues to cause “catastrophic flooding in southeastern Texas.”

The hurricane center says in its 4 a.m. Sunday update that the tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (72.42 kph) and remains stationary about 45 miles (72.42 kilometers) northwest of Victoria, Texas.

A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning also are both in effect for Port O’Connor to Sargent. The hurricane center says a storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline.

The center says Harvey is likely to weaken to a tropical depression later Sunday. Harvey made landfall Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane.

 

 

At least two people have died as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to dump rain on Southeast Texas.

The Harris County medical examiner’s office confirmed the death of one person late Saturday in Harris County, but the office did not identify the cause of death.

Gary Norman, a spokesman for the Houston emergency operations center, says the woman appeared to have gotten out of her vehicle in high water. She was found by neighbors about 30 yards away from the vehicle. Norman says she was pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor who was in the area.

Earlier Saturday, Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr. said the storm left one person dead in the county.

Harvey came ashore Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane, but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

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