Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast Aug. 25, 2017, as a Category 4 storm, with sustained wind speeds over 130 mph. Harvey weakened to a tropical storm and then stalled over the southeast part of the state, leading to a record-setting 50 inches of rain in parts of Houston and causing severe flooding. Many people were rescued from their cars and homes by volunteers called on to help local authorities. At least 70 deaths have been blamed on the storm. Two weeks after it hit, an estimated 32,000 people were still in shelters.   

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Martin do Nascimento / KUT

It’s been seven weeks since Harvey hit the Texas coast, and the small inland town of Refugio is still in recovery mode. The process has been slower than residents would like, but spirits are still high.

“It’s been rough,” said Mary Rushing. “Of course, we closed down for two to three weeks, you know, mold and stinky and stuff like that.”

Rushing is a florist and owns a Nona’s Flower Box in Refugio. She’s lived in the town for 17 years. She says it’s starting to look like the community she knows.

Austin Price for KUT

Refugio head football Coach Jason Herring spent all summer planning for this week, the Texas Class 2A State Championship game. He would have no idea how far he would have to veer from that plan to get to this point.

From Texas Standard.

What can we learn from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria? To answer that question, and to facilitate planning for future storms, seven universities in Florida, Louisiana and Texas are pooling their money to put together what could be a first-of-its-kind center for hurricane research.

Craig LeMoult

From Texas Standard.

Last week at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houston Democrat, addressed the need for more federal aid after Hurricane Harvey.

“We do not have the adequate resources, and this is going to be on the verge of a government shutdown if Texas and all the other victims of these hurricanes do not have a compromise where we can work together. I would encourage you to tell the president that it is not enough,” Jackson Lee told Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security.

Will McCarthy

From Texas Standard.

The Texas Gulf Coast is still on the mend from Hurricane Harvey. The deadly storm displaced residents and caused damage that will take many more months to fully repair. But repairs aside, how long will it take for hard-hit areas to really recover? One way to predict that answer is to look to the past. It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on Texas.

Galveston Bay Dolphin Research and Conservation Program

From Texas Standard.

Much debris has been cleared out, but three months after Harvey’s landfall, the ecological damage is still being assessed. Not long after the storm clouds cleared, oyster and shrimp farmers lamented the hit to their livelihoods from extensive rains and runoff.

But researchers at the University of Houston at Clear Lake have been looking at the storm’s effect on other marine life, too – and they’ve discovered that bottlenose dolphins, have developed some puzzling ailments after the storm. Kristi Fazioli, a research associate with the Environmental Institute of Houston at the University of Houston Clear Lake, helps study this population.

Pu Ying Huang for Texas Tribune

ORANGE — With her husband incarcerated on a murder charge, Jacquene Fontenot single-handedly wakes and dresses five kids under the age of 5 every morning, drops them off at a local child care center and drives two hours to her job as a custodian in central Louisiana.

David Martin Davies / Texas Public Radio

Three months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the Texas Coastal Bend is still far from back to normal. The Category 4 storm delivered winds of 130 mph that battered Aransas County communities, and many residents there are still without housing.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

As we celebrate this holiday of being thankful, we would be remiss not to also think about those who are struggling. This week, we’ve featured stories of the hard time many of our fellow Texans are having rebuilding their homes and their lives after Hurricane Harvey.

So how much damage did Harvey do to Texas homes?

Jill Ament

From Texas Standard:

Of the 3,500 structures in Vidor, Texas – a town outside of Beaumont – more than 2,000 were flooded in some way by Harvey. The First United Methodist Church in Vidor served as a shelter for around 200 flooded out residents in the town of about 11,000 people. That includes the parsonage where Pastor John Mooney and his family live. Many of his church members' homes were also hit.

"The majority of them were actually rescued by their neighbor, by their fellow Vidorian folks with boats, so a lot of these folks, their homes were ruined, they were flooded, they were damaged,” Mooney says. “So a lot of them don't have anywhere to go."

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday panned the White House's latest disaster aid request, calling it "completely inadequate" for Texas' needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. 

Investigators Say Harvey Chemical Plant Fires Should Be Wake-Up Call For Industry

Nov 15, 2017
U.S. Chemical Safety Board

Investigators say chemical plant fires during Hurricane Harvey should be a warning to other industrial facilities ahead of the next hurricane season.

Hurricane Harvey was the worst flood in Houston's history. Scientists and citizens are still piecing together why it was so bad, but it's becoming clear that a lot of the damage comes down to how people have built America's fourth-largest city.

You can see the problem from your car. Houston is a sprawling web of strip malls and 10-lane freeways.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT

The Refugio High School Bobcats are a powerhouse in Texas high school football. The program has just 13 losses in 11 years. They regularly shutout opponents, running up the score to double-digit differentials.

Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune for KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Gov. Greg Abbott was in Washington on Tuesday, seeking additional federal funding for Harvey relief and getting an earful from Texas' congressional delegation – a group he called "spineless" a few weeks ago when he felt they weren't working hard enough to bring home the bacon.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Two months after the storm, there may be cause to rethink what many of us thought we knew about Harvey. Most folks assume that during times of disaster you do see major spikes in crime, but that’s actually not what happened in Houston.

Robert Downen, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, has found some surprising numbers that counter a common narrative.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Deandra Delgado and her four children took refuge in an Austin shelter after Hurricane Harvey pounded her small Texas town of Edna. As she anticipated returning home to a trampled town, Delgado looked around the cot-strewn gymnasium of the Wilhelmina Delco Center in North Austin, which served as a shelter immediately after the storm hit.

"There's really not much to do," she said. "We sleep a lot."

Bryant Ju and Ryan Murphy / Texas Tribune

For Hurricane Harvey recovery, Texans want federal, state and local officials to focus on debris cleanup and disposal, housing, public health and environmental contamination, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Texas voters said other problems brought on by the historic storm — transportation, public education, unemployment and damage to local businesses — are extremely or somewhat important to them, but their first priorities are cleaning up and making sure everyone is okay.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

It’s mid-October and kids in Port Aransas are finally going back to school in their own community. Classrooms have been closed in the Gulf Coast town since Harvey made landfall. Though Port Aransas Independent School District finally opened its doors, not all of the classrooms are quite where they need to be.

State Says Harvey's Death Toll Has Reached 88

Oct 13, 2017
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Hurricane Harvey has directly or indirectly taken the lives of as least 88 Texans, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Department of State Health Services.

The majority of deaths – 62 – were caused by wind, rain and floods, which led to drownings or trees falling on people. 

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

It’s been seven weeks since Harvey hit the Texas coast, and the small inland town of Refugio is still in recovery mode. The process has been slower than residents would like, but spirits are high.

“It’s been rough,” said florist Mary Rushing. “Of course, we closed down for two to three weeks, you know, mold and stinky and stuff like that.”

The National Guard/Cpt. Martha Nigrelle/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

With a deadline to apply for FEMA assistance looming for Texans rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, questions about getting federal and state help remain for many residents in areas hit the hardest by the storm.

Sarah Montgomery/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is fuming about the Lone Star congressional delegation. "Get a spine!" That's his message to Texas' elected representatives on Capitol Hill, as the U.S. House gets set to vote on a hurricane relief package.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

From Texas Standard

The Texas Education Agency estimates Hurricane Harvey caused $1.64 billion worth of damage to public schools in the state.

Educators and lawmakers are afraid some schools won’t be able to recover. Now TEA says it has a strategy that may save school systems that saw declines in enrollment from lost funding.

Michael Stravato / Texas Tribune

HOUSTON — Texans whose homes were wiped out when Hurricane Harvey slammed ashore and dumped more than 50 inches of rain on some parts of this region may find that federal money allocated for long-term recovery won’t come close to meeting their collective rebuilding costs.

The exact size of the shortfall is unknown — and could remain unclear for weeks or months as federal officials also grapple with the destruction of two subsequent hurricanes that damaged wide swaths of Florida and Puerto Rico.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The weather was good for the funeral. The sunset painted the Port Aransas sky in pinks, yellows and blues. The breeze off the Gulf cut the humidity. The crowd of 60 or so on the beach was dressed eclectically. Some wore t-shirts and swimsuits, others traditional black. They were all there to mourn Tony Amos. They would do it in a way that, probably, no man had been mourned before.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

From Texas Standard:

Sixty years ago, the Texas Water Development Board was tasked to learn about or manage everything being done across the state to meet our water needs. It was the dawn of an era of planning for water shortages.  

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

It wasn’t just people who found themselves displaced after Hurricane Harvey flooded parts of Texas. Animals escaped the floodwaters, as well – and not just run-of-the-mill house pets.

The Austin Zoo recently took in a tiger, two lions, and a family of tamarin monkeys – all rescued from the Texas Zoo in Victoria, Texas, which flooded after Hurricane Harvey.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera (Abbott)/Pu Ying Huang

After Gov. Greg Abbott presented Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner a $50 million check for Hurricane Harvey relief Friday, Turner said he would rescind a proposed property tax hike for his city.

Mose Buchele / KUT

A hiring freeze for most state jobs hurt Texas’ ability to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, the state employees union says.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the hiring freeze earlier this year to save money. At Texas Health and Human Services, that meant 600 vacancies for “eligibly workers” went unfilled, union President Judy Lugo said.

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