Relief for Texas after 5 days of storm battering
Tropical Storm Harvey bore down on Louisiana yesterday, bringing yet more water after setting rainfall records in Texas that caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed Houston, the energy hub of the United States.
The storm that first came ashore on Friday near Corpus Christi, Texas, as the most powerful hurricane to hit the American state in more than 50 years has killed at least 17 people and forced tens of thousands to leave their deluged homes.
Damage has been estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest US natural disasters.
While the storm pushed into Louisiana, there was some relief in sight for Houston after days of torrential rain in the fourth most populous US city. Clear skies were seen for the first time since Saturday.
Mike Dickerson, 52, a handyman, walked through Houston’s quiet streets, carrying a bag of his possessions. He was trying to figure out how to get back to his home, which was waist-deep in water the last time he saw it.
“A lot of people are going back now because everything looks dry around here. But people who lost everything have nowhere to go,” Dickerson said.
As Harvey churned out of the Houston area, it made landfall for a third time early yesterday, and was about 40 kilometers west of Lake Charles, Louisiana, with winds up to 75 kilometers per hour. It was expected to bring an additional 7 to 15 centimeters of rain to an area about 130 kilometers east of Houston as well as southwestern Louisiana.
The Beaumont-Port Arthur area east of Houston received “an incredible amount of rain overnight,” said David Roth, meteorologist at the US Weather Prediction Center.
He said the observation point at the regional airport showed the rain total over the past 24 hours that “appears to exceed anything reported around Houston within 24 hours during Harvey’s passage.”
Several hundred people already had been rescued from their homes in Lake Charles, where flood waters were knee-deep in places, said Mayor Nic Hunter.
“We are a very resilient people down here. We will survive,” Hunter said. “We will take care of each other down here in Texas and Louisiana. But we do need some help from the federal government, these homeowners and these people who have been displaced. That’s going to be our biggest need.”
Harvey is projected to weaken as it moves inland to the northeast, the National Hurricane Center said. It may take days for Houston’s flood waters, which have spilled over dams and pushed levees to their limits, to recede, officials said.
City officials were preparing to temporarily house some 19,000 people, with thousands more expected to flee. As of yesterday morning, state officials said close to 49,000 homes had suffered flood damage, with more than 1,000 destroyed.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner imposed a curfew from midnight to 5am amid reports of looting, armed robberies and people impersonating police officers.
US President Donald Trump visited Texas on Tuesday to survey damage from the first major natural disaster to test his crisis leadership.