As the biggest storm to hit the United States since 2004, Hurricane Harvey has been dominating the headlines, and it’s no wonder, since the storm has left many parts of Texas inundated by flood waters. The storm originally reached land on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane, where it caused extensive damage to the towns of Rockport and Corpus Christi, Texas. Although Hurricane Harvey may have weakened to a tropical storm soon after making landfall, it continued to wreak havoc along the Texas coastline and eventually caused severe flooding that has left most of Houston, America’s fourth largest city, under several feet of water.
The Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
Despite not being directly in the path of the hurricane, the Houston area seems to have been the worst hit by the storm. Some areas of the city have already received well over 20 inches of rainfall in just 24 hours, and experts are predicting that the torrential rains could potentially last until Wednesday with the result that some areas of Houston may end up receiving over 40 to 50 inches (over 4 feet) of total rain. In addition to the heavy rains, the storm was also responsible for numerous small tornadoes, and Houston city officials were forced to issue more than 70 tornado warnings. Damage from the storm, flooding, and tornadoes are said to be extensive, and state officials have already confirmed that Harvey caused numerous fatalities. However, the exact extent of the damage and the number of total fatalities likely won’t be known for at least several days until the floods begin receding.
State and Federal Response to the Storm
State and federal officials have been working over time since the storm hit land in an effort to provide emergency help to those areas worst hit by the storm. Already Houston emergency responders and the U.S. Coast Guard have performed over 500 search-and-rescue operations, and these operations are expected to continue over the coming days as the waters continue to rise. The flooding became so pronounced on Sunday that Houston city officials had to warn residents not to take shelter in their attics unless they were armed with an axe to break through onto the roof if necessary. Instead, city officials are advising Houstonians to seek shelter on their roof and to call for emergency help should the floodwaters threaten their position.
U.S. President Donald Trump declared a disaster emergency for Texas over the weekend and has said that he plans to visit Houston later in the week to see the extent of the damage firsthand. However, there have still been numerous criticisms of the way that Trump has handled the situation. Most notably, many of his opponents are angry that the Trump administration used the storm as a way to distract from several controversial announcements. Trump waited until 6pm on Friday, when he knew the major news outlets would be primarily focused on the storm, to announce that he was reinstating a ban on transgender persons in the military. At the same time, the administration announced that Trump has pardoned controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio in addition to contentious Trump aide Sebastian Gorka leaving his post.
Still, the debate surrounding these other matters may obviously have to wait until another time. The fact that the torrential rains are expected to continue for several more days means that Houston residents are not out of the woods yet, and in truth, it could be weeks or even months before the area finally begins to recover from what will go down as one of the worst storms the U.S. has faced.