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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From Texas Standard:

A full account of the lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey is still being tallied. But at least one thing is certain: planners will have to rethink the concrete bones upon which Houston is built. And not just Houston, but any coastal city at risk of serious flooding.

For so long, the main strategy of such a metropolis has been to fight against incoming water with pavement and pumps. It appears the latest thinking on the subject flips things around – embrace the water, don’t just repel it.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Right now, an army of FEMA home inspectors is working its way through parts of Texas decimated by Hurricane Harvey. The inspectors are recording information that will help the government decide who gets disaster aid and how much. But the way that money is distributed has come under fire.

Courtesy of Texas Monthly

From Texas Standard:

Certain events in history have changed the lives of Texans forever. The Great Storm of 1900 in Galveston is still the deadliest hurricane on record. On a day in Dallas, in 1963, a nation lost a president. In 1966, a shooter atop the UT Tower terrorized a city by committing the first mass murder on a college campus. And now Harvey. These defining moments are embedded in the memories of those who lived them, but for everyone else, we rely on the written record.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Harvey was a big storm, but what if it's judged by the amount of trash?

“This is, by far, the largest disaster we’ve seen,” said Kurt Thormahlen, general manager of DRC Emergency Services. “I was talking to one of our subcontractors. He’s been in the business since 1972, and he’s never seen anything like this.”

Austin Price for KUT

When it comes to Hurricane Harvey, Austin got off easy compared to other cities. The storm proved challenging for the city’s electric grid, however: About 79,000 customers lost power, and the city's electric utility is still tallying the cost.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

You probably remember playing "telephone" as a kid. You sit in a circle, pass a message around, and see how it comes out on the other end. But during an emergency, when new information comes fast, lives are at stake, and normal lines of communication get disrupted – two cans on a string might be a better analogy than a phone. During Hurricane Harvey, information was scarce, and what people did find out was often wrong, and fueled by fear – creating a high-pressure version of the telephone game.

Scott/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Irma and Harvey delivered a one-two punch to two major airline hubs: Houston and Miami. We've heard a lot about the electrical grid, the impact on roads and infrastructure, but what effect did the hurricanes have on airline businesses?

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From Texas Standard:

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, housed thousands of storm victims in trailers. The small, white trailers were controversial because some storm survivors lived in them for years, and due to lawsuits alleging that many of the trailers were constructed with toxic materials.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Medical professionals are keeping an eye out for people having difficulty dealing with the trauma of losing their homes during Hurricane Harvey.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

After pushes to bring welcome kits and toys to those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, local organizations are now partnering to bring cleaning supplies to those rebuilding after the unprecedented storm damaged homes across the state.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

A Harvey evacuee at the Delco Center was getting treated for a wound on her head last week when workers discovered she was diabetic.

“The people of CVS immediately ordered the insulin," says Adryana Aldeen, who was volunteering with the Red Cross that day. "She was out of insulin.”

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

When big storms hit, familiar relief organizations like the Red Cross step in to help people in need. But there’s one local group trying to break the mold when it comes to relief.

Michael Marks/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

It wasn’t just people who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. Cattle throughout south Texas were also put in harm’s way. But even though the water has receded, the storm’s full effect on the region’s livestock may not be known for some time.

Austin Price for KUT

Texas will be cleaning up and rebuilding from Hurricane Harvey for a long time, and Hurricane Irma is getting ready to hit Florida hard. When a natural disaster strikes, many people have an immediate urge to help. But as the waters – and news coverage – subside, so can attention. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Like thousands of Hurricane Harvey victims, Patricia Belcher spent her time last week in limbo. She and her family were stuck in a shelter in Austin after the managers of her Victoria apartment complex called with bad news.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Wendy Rivera sat on a metal folding chair outside the shelter for Harvey evacuees in Southeast Austin. She shared a 44-ounce convenience store soda with her husband, Ramiro, a soft-spoken and tattooed man, who used his body and a white towel to shade the two from the sun.

Plant Industry, CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

It’s clean-up time at the home where Ron Gertson is staying. He’s taking refuge at his brother’s house because his house is uninhabitable at the moment. It is full of flood water from Hurricane Harvey.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

On Wednesday, the House easily approved nearly $8 billion in short-term funds for areas hit by Hurricane Harvey. Meanwhile, members of the Texas congressional delegation from both parties are working together to direct more federal money to the Gulf Coast, and to influence the way they are spent.

Michael Marks/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, it flattened places like Rockport and Portland. But the massive damage in Houston and the Golden Triangle area came from flooding that occurred after Harvey had been downgraded from a hurricane-force storm.

As the water rose on their first-floor apartment, Rosa Sosa and her family fled to a vacant unit on the second floor. They watched in horror as it continued to rise, as it swallowed most of the cars in the parking lot that rings their sprawling two-story complex, as it stuck around, stubbornly, even after the rain stopped.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Democratic congressional leaders announced Wednesday that they had reached a deal with President Trump in an Oval Office meeting to pass hurricane relief funding this week, along with measures to push off pressing fiscal deadlines to December — over the apparent objections of Republican leaders.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Standing on the bank of Onion Creek at McKinney Falls State Park, De Ding watches his wife and two kids splash in the water.

“I’ve seen enough water,” he chuckles. But, it's better than the water he was dealing with Houston, he says.

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2:45 p.m.: This article and its headline have been updated with details of the telethon.


Scooter Braun, the artist manager responsible for cultivating Justin Bieber's career, told the Associated Press last week of his plans for a benefit concert to support those affected by Harvey.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

As the levels in Houston's two main reservoirs continue to drop, many Texans have begun cleaning up their waterlogged homes. And in Baytown, Exxon is rebooting its refinery, the second biggest in the U.S. But there’s much more to do.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Update – Sept. 7: Mayor Adler is now asking for volunteers to sort toy donations at the Blue Santa warehouse on Industrial Drive. Shifts are today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on volunteer shifts call (512) 974-4719.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

Officials are still trying to confirm whether Texas floodwaters have spread contamination from decades-old toxic waste sites, as water recedes and residents return to homes that, in some cases, were flooded with water that passed over known contaminated areas.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

An 8-foot-tall shelf. That’s what it would have taken to keep Dolores Martinez's belongings dry in La Grange.

Martinez, 53, and her family had nearly 8 feet of water in their home when the nearby Colorado River crested at nearly 30 feet above its banks Monday. Then-Tropical Storm Harvey brought a level of flooding some who have lived their whole lives here say they’ve never seen before.

Volunteer Chiquita Harris sorts items to be placed in welcome baskets for evacuees at Operation Warm Welcome over the weekend.
Austin Price for KUT

When Mayor Steve Adler recently did an instructional video on how to make welcome kits for incoming evacuees from Hurricane Harvey, everyday items like pillows, soap and a comb were included, but there were some items that weren’t considered.

Flooding from Hurricane Harvey has been widespread across Houston, Texas, and surrounding areas. While the storm has dissipated, water remains in many homes.

People are starting to return to the Nottingham Forest subdivision, an upscale area located just north of Buffalo Bayou, which has been heavily flooded. Homes that are closer to the bayou had anywhere from 2 to 5 feet of flooded water on Thursday. A lot of that flooding resulted from a controlled release of water from nearby reservoirs.

The devastation of Harvey has neighbors and strangers helping one another. Brigades of volunteers have come to Texas. They've loaded up their boats for rescues and packed trailers full of food and water to help people who no longer have homes.

In his hometown of Orange, Texas, Epi Mungui is overseeing a makeshift distribution center in the middle of a sweltering hot strip center parking lot.

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