HOUSTON (AP) — Five days after Harvey first made landfall as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years, the now-tropical storm is still pounding parts of Texas and Louisiana with rain. Here are some things happening on the ground:
The National Weather Service says the clouds that have loomed over the Houston area since Harvey made its initial landfall will at last give way to sunshine.
Harvey made landfall — again — early Wednesday, this time in southwestern Louisiana. The storm is expected to move inland , bringing continued heavy rain to Louisiana, before heading north to Arkansas, Tennessee and parts of Missouri.
“Once we get this thing inland during the day, it’s the end of the beginning,” said National Hurricane Center spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen. “Texas is going to get a chance to finally dry out as this system pulls out.”
So far, the highest rains recorded are just shy of the United States record for a tropical system. The rains in Cedar Bayou, near Mont Belvieu, Texas, topped the 50-inch mark with 51.88 inches (132 centimeters) as of 3:30 p.m. CDT Tuesday. That’s a record for the continental U.S., but it doesn’t quite pass the 52 inches (133 centimeters) from tropical cyclone Hiki in Kauai, Hawaii, in 1950 (before Hawaii became a state).
SHELTER FROM THE STORM
More than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters, according to the American Red Cross. Houston said it would set up at least two more mega-shelters with the George R. Brown Convention Center holding more than 9,000 people, almost double the number officials original planned to house there.
Nearby, Joel Osteen opened his megachurch — a 16,000-seat former arena that was the longtime home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets — to evacuees after social media critics slammed the televangelist for not offering to house people in need while Harvey swamps the city. In a tweet announcing the move, Osteen said he and wife Victoria Osteen “care deeply about our fellow Houstonians.”
The Toyota Center — the current home of the Rockets — and NRG Park were opened on Tuesday as additional shelters.
RESCUES AND DEATHS
More than 13,000 people have been rescued in the Houston area and other parts of Southeast Texas since Harvey inundated the region with torrential rain, according to federal and local agencies.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday that his agency has rescued about 4,100 people, and city Fire Chief Samuel Peña said the fire department rescued more than 3,000.
Parisa Safarzadeh, spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, said that agency has rescued more than 3,000 people. And U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Mike Hart added that it has rescued about another 3,000.
Meanwhile, the death toll from Harvey has increased to at least 18, according to authorities and family members. Three more deaths were confirmed late Tuesday by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
LIFE IN LIMBO
Tropical Storm Harvey’s relentless rain is making displaced Texans desperate to start their recovery.
Retired police officer Michael Bedner said the inability to get back to his flooded home in a creekside community between Houston and Galveston Bay to assess the damage has left him feeling helpless. He said he’s seen all kinds of disasters during his career but never one like Harvey.
“We have been trying to get back to the house every day, and we can’t,” he said Tuesday. “Not even the house, just our street. We just want to feel like we’re home. But we can’t,” Bedner said.
Harvey has made plain that Houston’s Depression-era flood-control system of reservoirs and bayous is no match for the booming development the metropolitan area has gone through over the past several decades. Among other things, experts blame too many people, too much concrete, insufficient upstream storage, not enough green space for water drainage and, especially, too little regulation.
“Houston is the most flood-prone city in the United States,” said Rice University environmental engineering professor Phil Bedient. “No one is even a close second — not even New Orleans, because at least they have pumps there.”
SHADES OF KATRINA
While much of the focus has been on Houston, Louisiana is also getting rain from Harvey. Twelve years to the day after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, Harvey forced hundreds of people to be rescued from floodwaters in southwestern Louisiana and prompted New Orleans to shut down some key institutions as a precaution. Meanwhile, images of flood devastation in Houston revived painful memories for survivors of Katrina.
PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE
How much rain has fallen? Consider this: Already, 15 trillion gallons (57 trillion liters) of rain have fallen, and an additional 5 trillion or 6 trillion gallons (19 to 23 trillion liters) are forecast by the end of Wednesday, meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics calculates. That’s enough water to fill all the NFL and Division 1 college football stadiums more than 100 times over.
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