'Unprecedented' Rainfall and Rising Floodwaters: Everything to Know in the Wake of Harvey
Hurricane Harvey made landfall northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Friday evening. And it’s ravaged the state ever since, leaving millions of people to battle catastrophic flooding.
Buildings were ripped apart and firefighters were unable to respond to victims in the hours after the storm hit and traveled across Texas. It started as aCategory 4 storm with winds of 130 miles per hour, but moved offshore before making landfall again, becoming a Category 3 hurricane.
Harvey’s rains have inundated Houston, leaving residents stranded on their roofs and homeless.
Here’s what you need to know about the storm wreaking havoc on the nation’s fourth largest city and beyond.
The storm has brought destructive rain to Texas’ largest cities — including Houston, Austin and San Antonio — and Louisiana, resulting in five deaths and 12 injuries, according to the latest reports.
“This is a landmark event for Texas,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long told CNN. “Texas has never seen an event like this.”
Around 13 million people living in cities from Corpus Christi to New Orleans are under flood watches and warnings as rain continues to pour down.
More than 300,000 people also lost power from the high winds.
By late Saturday morning, the storm was changed to a Category 1, with winds at about 75 mph and centered 25 miles west of Victoria, Texas, ABC News reported. Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm by Saturday afternoon, and is expected to produce a “multiday rainfall disaster” over the next five to six days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
But the National Weather Service also warns that although the storm has begun to weaken, “life threatening-hazards will continue from heavy rainfall over much of Southeastern Texas.”
By the time the storm ends, some areasmay see more than 50 inches of rain.
Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, said Harvey’s rains will continue for days, pouring an additional 15 to 25 inches over parts of Southeast Texas.
“This is unprecedented,” he told the New York Times.
The National Weather Service echoed that statement in a tweet Sunday morning, writing: “This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”
On Sunday morning, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner defended his decision not to order evacuations before the storm.
“You literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road,” Turner said in a press conference. “If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare.”
But by Sunday morning, inundated officials had already received more than 2,000 rescue calls and tens of thousands of people spent the weekend in storm shelters.
Houston has opened its convention center as a makeshift mass shelter, and Dallas will do the same.
On Friday, before the hurricane hit, President Donald Trump issued a disaster proclamation, saying, “At the request of the Governor of Texas, I have signed the Disaster Proclamation, which unleashes the full force of government help!”
He has been posting updates on Harvey’s status and the government’s response, praising rescue workers, ever since.
On Sunday he wrote, “Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground.”
And on Tuesday, the president will travel to Texas, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. Before he arrives, Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, will tour the coastal bend region.
Former President and Texas native, George H. W. Bush and wife, Barbara, have released a statement on the devastating flooding.
“Barbara and I are in Maine, but our hearts are in Houston,” they said in a joint statement. “We are praying for all of our fellow Houstonians and Texans affected by Harvey, and truly inspired by the flotilla of volunteers — Points of Light all — who are answering the call to help their neighbors. We salute them, the first responders, and the local elected officials for their grit and determination in the face of this extraordinary storm. This we know: Houston, and Texas, will come together and rebuild.”
RELATED VIDEO: Texans Band Together Amid Catastrophic Flooding
Former President George W. Bush also released a statement amid the tragedy.
“This morning I spoke with Governor Abbott about the rescue and operations underway in Houston and along the Gulf Coast. Laura and I are moved by the heroic work of the first responders and volunteers who are putting themselves at risk to save others,” the statement read. “The devastation breaks our hearts, but we are confident that these strong communities will recover and thrive.
“Laura and I are pleased to donate to Team Rubicon, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. We hope our fellow citizens will join us in giving to these groups and others that are making a difference on the ground. We are proud of the people of Texas for showing the resilience and compassion of our state, and we pray for their safety and well-being.”