Even the SHELTERS are floodedDaily Mail
August 30, 2017
There was no escaping Hurricane Harvey on Tuesday night as even rescue shelters housing terrified evacuees who have lost their homes filled up with flood water in what experts are now describing as the worst natural disaster in US history.
At the Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur, evacuees were forced to wait in the bleachers as water washed over the floor and sent their Red Cross cot beds and chairs floating.
They were taken to Carl Parker Center at Lamar State College where they now join hundreds of others who have been displaced. It is not clear how many people were in the first shelter when the floods crept in on Tuesday night.
More than 30,000 people are in bursting shelters as floods continue to swamp Houston after the heaviest rainfall in US history. Countless more are taking cover in the homes of friends and family whose houses are, for now, safe from the floods.
The water continues to rise, sparking electrical fires in abandoned homes and threatening to drown anyone who has been unable to escape. More than 50 inches of rain has fallen in parts of Houston - the heaviest rainfall in US history - and the downpours continue.
Joel Myers, the founder of the AccuWeather service, described it as the 'worst natural disaster in US history' on Wednesday and estimated the damage to be $160 billion - the same amount as that caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined.
At least 30 people have been confirmed dead but that number is likely to rocket as the waters recede and emergency services begin recovering victims.
Anyone who is still in need of rescue is being asked to get on high ground and wave white towels or sheets to make themselves visible. Overwhelmed authorities are asking anyone with boats to help in the rescue efforts.
Many in Port Arthur and Beaumont are trapped on their roofs awaiting rescue.
On Tuesday, Houston's Police Chief Art Acevedo painted a grave picture of the devastation. 'I'm worried about how many bodies we're going to find. I'm just hoping we find the bodies,' he said, as his officers continued to focus their efforts on saving their living rather than retrieving the bodies of the dead.
Harvey made landfall in Texas on Friday and ravaged the southeast coast before moving back off shore where it has thundered on for days.
It returned to land on Wednesday, arriving on the state lines of Texas and Louisiana at 5am and bringing 10 inches of rain to Louisiana where preparations have been underway for days in anticipation of the deadly storm.
As rescue teams and volunteers continue rescuing stranded residents from the waters,
- There are 30,000 people in shelters across the state with another 10,000 expected to become displaced
- The NRG stadium which hosted this year's Superbowl has opened its doors to house the needy
- 30 people are confirmed dead but the official death toll is feared to be significantly higher
- Dams in Houston have failed and water plants are swamped, making drinking water across some counties unsafe
- A midnight to 5am curfew is in place to stop looters and other opportunistic criminals
- Louisiana is bracing itself for 10 inches of rain as Harvey barrels along the coast before landing at midday
- There are mandatory evacuation orders in place across five different counties.
- The cost of the damage by the time the storm has passed is likely to reach $160billion
On Wednesday, Joel Myers of AccuWeather warned that Harvey had surpassed all others in terms of destruction.
'This will be the worst natural disaster in American history. The economy's impact, by the time its total destruction is completed, will approach $160 billion, which is similar to the combined effect of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,' he told The New York Post.
At the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, the city's main shelter, 10,000 are cramming in to cots, chairs and on the floor.
Churches across the city have opened their doors to displaced residents as have mosques and concert arenas.
A record 51.88 inches of rain had fallen in Cedar's Bayou, one of the worst affected areas in Houston, by Tuesday afternoon.
Search and rescue missions are still underway and the number of people still trapped in their homes is unknown.
More than 13,000 have been rescued from their homes and from the water since the storm hit over the weekend.
A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana but it is not expected to suffer the same devastation as Houston where river levees have burst and dams on the outskirts of the city are overflowing.
On Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted of his heartbreak after spending the day in Corpus Christi where thousands have been rendered homeless.
'After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey,my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!' he said.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday his agency has rescued about 4,100 people. Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña says they have rescued more than 3,000.
Parisa Safarzadeh, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff's Office says her agency has rescued more than 3,000 people. Houston is located in Harris County.
US Coast Guard Lt Mike Hart says his agency has rescued more than 3,000 individuals.
Hart says the Coast Guard total includes rescues in Houston, but also in outlying cities and subdivisions outside of Houston, as well as in surrounding counties, including Brazoria, Galveston and Matagorda.
Air Force Major General Witham, the director of dometic operations for the National Guard Bureau, told reporters there are currently about 3,500 National Guard troops involved in Harvey rescue efforts, including 3,000 from the Texas National Guard.
He estimated that the Texas guard number could rise to 8,000 to 10,000 in coming days, possibly joined by 20,000 to 30,000 from other states.
He said the military is providing everything that has been requested by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, although the response is constrained by the stormy weather and by flooding that limits use of roadways.
He said weather has limited the use of military helicopters over the past two or three days, so the Guard has instead used boats and ground vehicles to rescue stranded residents in the Houston area.
Besides the additional National Guard troops from other states, there are about 1,000 active-duty military forces in position to provide assistance if called up by civilian authorities, he said.
Asked whether Texas authorities recognized the magnitude of the disaster quickly enough, Witham said, 'That's debatable.' He said in some respects the need was recognized quickly. But the extraordinary amount of rainfall and flooding exceeded what state planners could have foreseen.
'So if you're looking at an event that only occurs every few hundred years, the planning that would have normally occurred for that probably wasn't here,' Witham said.
'So, in many cases, the request for assistance, not only for the National Guard but federal forces, may not have been anticipated quickly enough.'
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo gave a bleak forecast of the damage caused by Harvey on Tuesday as he warned that the death toll would be much higher than 30, the official number of confirmed deaths.
'We know in these kind of events that, sadly, the death toll goes up historically. I'm really worried about how many bodies we're going to find,' he said.