Nearly five days after Hurricane Harvey touched Texas soil, the storm has broken state rainfall records and sparked unprecedented flooding across Southeast Texas and the city of Houston, where residents are desperate for relief.
Here’s where things stand:
A presidential visit
President Donald Trump was in Texas today, meeting with state leaders and receiving briefings on Harvey recovery efforts. Trump was in Corpus Christi earlier this morning, and has wrapped up a briefing in Austin, where he was joined by federal officials and multiple members of Congress. He's en route back to Washington, but he mentioned during a news conference Monday he may return to the state later this week.
During his visit, Trump said that while recovery "will be a long and difficult road," the federal government plans to work hand-in-hand with Gov. Greg Abbott and the state to provide resources and support.
The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.
“Nobody's ever seen anything like this, and I just want to say that working with the governor and his entire team has been an honor for us,” Trump said. We've pledged our full support as Texas and Louisiana recover from this devastating and historic storm."
Rescue and relief efforts
Abbott announced Tuesday afternoon that the Texas Department of Transportation would be immediately receiving $25 million from the federal government to help recover from Harvey. The funds, Abbott said in a released statement, will go toward removing debris, assisting in cleanup efforts and repairing roads, signs and traffic lights, among other things.
"The immediate response from the federal government to the State of Texas has been tremendous, and these funds couldn't come at a better time," Abbot said, echoing Trump’s earlier remarks that a long road to recovery lies ahead for the state.
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Tuesday he was imposing a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew on the city "to prevent potential criminal acts." At least 22 people have been confirmed dead because of the storm, according to reports, and that number may rise in coming days. Harris County, which includes Houston and surrounding areas and has a population of more than 4 million people, had around 25 to 30 percent of its land flooded by Tuesday afternoon, according to a meteorologist from the area.
- Rescue efforts remain underway throughout Houston and other affected areas as flooding has overwhelmed the area. According to recent reports, the death toll for Hurricane Harvey victims has risen to more than 10 people. A veteran Houston police officer drowned in flood waters as he was driving his patrol car to work on Sunday morning.
- Brazoria County, an area south of Houston, appears to be experiencing high levels of flooding. Officials in that county, which has a population of more than 300,000 people, tweeted Tuesday morning that the levee at Columbia Lakes had been breached. Residents are being told to evacuate.
- Several major cities have opened their doors to those fleeing Harvey, including San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, which are all operating shelters for evacuees. And Lakewood Church in Houston, the largest in Texas, tweeted on Tuesday that it is receiving evacuees and and also working with Houston "as a collection site for distribution."
- Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Tuesday said there weren't available numbers yet on estimated livestock killed or injured because of Harvey, but he mentioned a recent update from the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association that predicts crop losses in the state could reach $150 million. Miller, emphasizing the devastation farmers and ranchers in Texas face, also announced he had activated the state's agriculture relief program to help those impacted get back on their feet.
More rain is in the forecast
Harvey has made its way back to the Gulf of Mexico for now, but it’s expected to make a second landfall in East Texas and Louisiana later this week — and to dump between 6 to 12 inches of rain in those areas through Friday.
Flooding effects reverberate statewide
- In an email to supporters Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, announced he was canceling several events in his campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz's Senate seat due to Hurricane Harvey. O'Rourke was set to visit Abilene, Lubbock, Big Spring, Odessa and Van Horn, but those stops weren't listed on his Facebook page as of Tuesday morning. "We have decided to cancel or postpone a handful of our Town Haulin' Across Texas tour stops so that Beto can be on the ground, volunteering with communities affected by Hurricane Harvey," the O'Rourke campaign said in an email to supporters.
- The Supreme Court of Texas on Monday reminded courts statewide that Harvey may impact cases and issued a 30-day emergency order telling all courts — even those not included in Abbott’s disaster declaration — to consider disaster-caused delays as “good cause” for adjusting deadlines and timelines for proceedings.
- The storm has also brought gas shortages to several parts of Texas. According to KERA, around 15 percent of U.S. oil refining capacity was put offline by Hurricane Harvey. That’s because some oil pipes are in Corpus Christi — where cities like Austin receive most of its gasoline supplies.
- ExxonMobil said Tuesday that two of its refineries — one in Beaumont and another in Baytown, a city within Harris County — were damaged as a result of the storm, which resulted in the release of hazardous pollutants.
- People have also been warned to watch for scammers if they’re trying to donate to Harvey-related relief, and on social media, there’s already been a few instances of the spreading of rumors. The San Jacinto River Authority said on Tuesday their Twitter account had been hacked and that someone had posted false information, confusing local officials and residents in the area.
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office confirmed to The Texas Tribune on Tuesday that they had received 600 complaints — including scams, price gouging and fraud — between Aug. 25 and 29 related to Harvey. Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokeswoman for Paxton, said the office had received complains from “$99 [for a] case of water” to “one Houston convenience store charging $20/gallon of gas” in a statement.
Read related Tribune coverage:
Several members of Congress from New York and New Jersey remain resentful over Texas Republicans that voted against a Hurricane Sandy aid package in 2013. [Full story]
Colleges in Houston and along the coast canceled classes and suffered minor damage from Hurricane Harvey. But major disaster has so far been averted. Take a look at how your university fared. [Full story]
A new law, set to take effect Friday, aims to crack down on frivolous insurance lawsuits. But House Bill 1774 also reduces the penalty fees that insurance companies face for late payments if the policyholder files a lawsuit. [Full story]