Catastrophic flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Harvey inundated Houston on Sunday, forcing residents of the fourth most populous US city to flee their homes in boats or hunker down in anticipation of several more days of “unprecedented” rainfall.
Harvey came ashore late on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years and has killed at least two people. The death toll is expected to rise as the storm triggers additional tidal surges and tornadoes, with parts of the region expected to see a year’s worth of rainfall in the span of a week.
The storm caused chest-deep flooding on some streets in Houston as rivers and channels overflowed their banks. More than 30 inches (76 cm) of rain had fallen in parts of Houston in the past 48 hours, the National Weather Service said on Sunday, with more on the way.
The storm struck at the heart of the country’s oil and gas industry, forcing operators to close several refineries and evacuate and close offshore platforms. The massive flooding knocked out 11 percent of US refining capacity and a quarter of oil production from the US Gulf of Mexico.
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“What we’re seeing is the most devastating flood event in Houston’s recorded history. We’re seeing levels of rainfall that are unprecedented,” said Steve Bowen, chief meteorologist at reinsurance firm Aon Benfield.
Total precipitation could reach 50 inches (127 cm) in some coastal areas of Texas by the end of the week, or the average rainfall for an entire year. The center of Harvey was about 105 miles (170 km) from Houston and was forecast to arc slowly toward the city through Wednesday.
People in Houston and other areas of Texas were asked not to leave their homes, even if they flooded, as roads were impassable.
President Donald Trump plans to go to Texas on Tuesday to survey damage from the storm, a White House spokeswoman said on Sunday.
Refineries shut down
The Gulf is home to about nearly half of the nation’s refining capacity, and the reduced supply could affect gasoline supplies across the US Southeast and other parts of the country. Shutdowns extended across the coast, including Exxon Mobil’s Baytown refinery, the second largest US refinery.
Gasoline futures rose as much as 7 percent in early trading on Sunday evening, and heating oil futures, a proxy for distillates like diesel fuel, were up as much as 3 percent, as supplies are expected to be curtailed.
The outages will limit the availability of US crude, gasoline and other refined products for global consumers and further push up prices, analysts said.
All Houston port facilities will be closed on Monday because of the weather threat, a port spokeswoman said on Sunday night.
The swift rise of floodwaters surprised authorities, and emergency services told the city’s 2.3 million inhabitants to climb onto the roofs of houses, if necessary.
“The water was right at our door,” said Jasmine Melendez, a 23-year-old Houston mother of three, including a week-old infant. “We were also worried about the kids, especially the baby.”
Melendez was sheltering at the downtown George Brown Convention Center, which was filled with hundreds of people who showed up for water, food and baby supplies. Some people were being brought to the center in city dump trucks.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office rescued more than 2,000 people in the greater Houston area using vehicles including motorboats, airboats and humvees on Sunday, a spokesman said.
‘Beyond anything experienced before’
Forecasters could only draw on a few analogues to the storm, recalling Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 and killed 1,800 people, and Tropical Storm Allison.
The Harris County Flood Control District said Harvey’s impact would rival that of Allison, which dropped more than 40 inches (102 cm) of rain in Texas in June 2001, flooded 70,000 homes and caused $9 billion in damage.
“The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before. Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days,” the National Weather Service said on Twitter.
Harvey hit Texas as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour (210 kph), the strongest storm to hit the state since 1961. As of Sunday evening, about 240,000 people were without power, but Centerpoint Energy, which serves Houston, said it could not give an accurate estimate because flooding was preventing crews from reaching customers.
Two deaths were confirmed so far – one in Rockport, 30 miles (48 km) north of Corpus Christi, and in west Houston on Saturday. The Twitter account for Harris County 911 said people should not call if their lives were not threatened.
Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports canceled all commercial flights on Sunday. The Ben Taub Hospital in Houston’s Medical Center was evacuated on Sunday. An American Red Cross emergency shelter was forced to shut because of flooding and the group opened two more.
Houston’s schools were scheduled to close for the week, the school district said on Twitter. ConocoPhillips will close on Monday and Tuesday, the company said.
Trump, facing the first big US natural disaster since he took office in January, signed a disaster proclamation on Friday, triggering federal relief efforts. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday that 50 counties had been declared state disaster areas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it had more than 400 rescue personnel in South Texas, and 500 others were in the state and expected to be joining in rescue operations on Sunday evening.
Jose Rengel, a 47-year-old construction worker who lives in Galveston, was helping with rescue efforts in Dickinson, Texas, southeast of Houston, where he saw water cresting the tops of cars.
“I am blessed that not much has happened to me, but these people lost everything. And it keeps raining,” he said.
“The water has nowhere to go.”
Hurricane Harvey prepper update: Sh#t just hit the fan in South Texas… non-preppers hurting badly as food, water, power and emergency services FAIL
(Natural News) News from inside Hurricane Harvey:
Local towns are experiencing so much flooding that some are cutting off municipal water supplies.
This is on top of the power grid outages, cell phone outages, store closures andwidespread road closures that have taken place here in the last 12 hours.
For the time being, everyone is on their own, with little available outside help. I’ve seen tweets of people pleading to be rescued as their homes flood, and those are the lucky ones who still have bandwidth access. Many people are completely cut off with no services at all: No electricity, no municipal water, no 911 response services, etc. As much as I want to help these people, I can’t even get to them (and neither can anyone else).
Hurricane Harvey is a strong reminder that prepping is the best insurance you can buy. While surrounding areas had no power, I cranked up my John Deere tractor with a PTO generator, providing power to my entire property for the cost of about two gallons of diesel per hour. This tractor-generator setup is virtually EMP-proof as long as you’re using an older tractor, like the one shown below. I call it the “ultimate backup generator” arrangement, and it’s mobile by design (photo courtesy of Steambrite.com)
Quick list of services that have been cut off or FAILED
This is in no way a criticism of emergency response services in Texas, by the way. Governor Abbott is doing a fantastic job, and local responders are also on the ball, saving lives by the hour. Texas has a powerful spirit of survival and preparedness, and that’s why the body count has been so low, given the “end of the world” prognostications we’ve been hearing from the media.
Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, however, this storm is flat-out brutal in terms of the volume of rain it’s dropping on a concentrated area. The flooding is truly reaching apocalyptic levels, and no government, no matter how motivated, can stop a 25-foot wall of water rushing over the banks of a creek or river. (Be sure to follow more news on disaster preparedness at Disaster.news.)
With that in mind, here are some of the services that have been cut off. Let this be a reminder to everyone that in a dire emergency, you may not be able to rely on anyone but yourself. You may be cut off from help just like we’re seeing across much of Texas right now:
- Municipal water is being turned OFF due to rising waters and possible contamination from septic systems (cholera, anyone?)
- Electrical services are failing as winds snap off heavy branches that take down power lines. Local power companies then have to fight the wind and rain to repair lines in extremely low-visibility conditions.
- 911 services are totally overloaded in some areas. Calls are simply going unanswered.
- Emergency responders such as police and sheriff deputies can’t reach you anyway.
- Many ROADS are completely flooded over, bringing transportation to a standstill and causing massive traffic jams.
- Hospitals and emergency rooms are functioning on emergency power, but that only helps if you can reach them.
- Medical transport helicopters are GROUNDED due to extremely high winds and very low visibility. Only Coast Guard pilots are trained to operate military-class helicopters in such conditions. For anybody else, taking to the skies in a helicopter is “power line suicide.”
- Food deliveries to local grocery stories are disrupted, and many shelves have been emptied out. Food supplies may be disrupted for an entire WEEK.
- The entire city of Houston has declared it will shut down for a full week. No government services. No passport processing. No DMV. If you need something from the city of Houston, you’re out of luck.
- Fuel deliveries are also being disrupted, and some gas stations are near empty. Once the roads are usable again, we will quickly see lack of fuel becoming a serious problem.
- Cell phone services are on and off in some areas, mostly due to the density of the rain. This means if you need to call 911, you really can’t. It’s one more reason to be prepared to solve your own problems.
Despite all these failures, we’ve been just fine because we are always prepared with food, water filters, backup power, emergency medicine, self-defense firearms, radios, flashlights and so on.
The people who are hurting the worst are those who are not preppers, and many of those people think “prepping” is “stupid.”
Suddenly the tables are turned, it seems. Over about the last 36 hours, nearly everyone in Texas gradually came to realize that preppers are the real geniuses. Prepping, it turns out, is the best insurance you can buy.
Watch my video report to learn more:
Sunday, August 27, 2017 by: Mike Adams
Tags: backup generator, central Texas, emergency gear, emergency medicine, extreme weather, Flooding, Health Ranger, Hurricane Harvey, Mike Adams, Natural.news, preparedness, Preppers, storable food, storms, survival, tractor,water filters