In Harvey's Wake

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In cities, small towns and rural communities throughout southeast Texas, the floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey have receded, but mountains of debris remain. A month after the storm, people are living in tents and trailers or sleeping on the couches of friends and family as they take stock of the damage to their homes and wait for promised help to arrive. After the Category 4 storm made landfall near Rockport on Aug. 25, it lingered inland over the Gulf Coast for four days, dropping almost 50 inches of rain in the Port Arthur-Beaumont area alone.

Flood damaged debris piled outside of homes in Port Arthur Texas. The city saw 47 inches of rain during the storm.
Flood-damaged debris piled outside of homes in Port Arthur. The city saw 47 inches of rain during Hurricane Harvey. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
One of three approved debris removal sites in Port Arthur, where some residents have raised concerns about the city’s plans for post-Harvey clean up.
One of three approved debris removal sites in Port Arthur, where some residents have raised concerns about living close to the accumulating piles of waste. "It’s just not right,” said Tami Pinkney, who lives in a home across the street from one of the sites. “This is not safe. It’s just not safe.” Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
Guadalupe Carrillo sorts through flood damaged items at her home in Port Arthur, Texas.
Guadalupe Carrillo sorts through flood-damaged items at her home in Port Arthur. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
After Hurricane Harvey, flood waters from the Neches River, hit Rose City, a small community of about 500 people near Beaumont. The river crested at a record breaking 19 feet. Along with nearly every home in the area, the city’s water system was inundated in the post-Harvey flooding, and residents are still without running water.
After Hurricane Harvey, floodwaters from the Neches River hit Rose City, a small community of about 500 people near Beaumont. The river crested at a record-breaking 19 feet. Along with nearly every home in the area, the city’s water system was inundated, and residents are still without running water. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
Robert McLaughlin removing sheetrock from a flooded home with mold growing on the walls in Rose City.
Robert McLaughlin removes sheetrock from a flooded home with mold growing on the walls in Rose City. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
“This is a total disaster,” said Carol Sue Smith, who is living in a tent behind her flood damaged house in Rose City. She is returning from a trip to city hall with provisions: soap, razors, water, and a hot meal. The only potable water in the community comes from two large tanks set up there, where residents can fill up containers to take back to their homes.
“This is a total disaster,” said Carol Sue Smith, as she returned from a trip to Rose City's city hall with provisions: soap, razors, water and a hot meal. The only potable water in the community comes from two large tanks set up there; residents can fill up containers to take back to their homes. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
Carol Sue Smith is living in a tent behind her flood damaged house in Rose City, where there is still no working water system.
Carol Sue Smith is living in a tent behind her flood-damaged property in Rose City until she is able to make enough repairs to move in again. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
A discarded gun safe, with the lock cut open, in Rose City.
A discarded gun safe sits atop a pile of debris in Rose City. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
Clarke Godkin bought an RV to use at his hunting lease about two years ago. Now it’s become his semi-permanent home while he attempts to make repairs to his flood damaged house in Rose City. Here he is trying to connect the trailer to electricity.
Clarke Godkin bought an RV to use at his hunting lease about two years ago. Now it’s become his semi-permanent home while he figures out what to do with his damaged house in Rose City. "I feel blessed, even though we’ve lost everything. We’ve been here 20 years and lost everything. But some folks, they’ve lost everything and have nowhere to go.” Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
A Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster recovery center, where Harvey victims can register for assistance and find a number of other services from state, federal, and local organizations. There are currently two in the county— this one in Beaumont, one in Port Arthur. Ken Higginbotham, a FEMA spokesman in Beaumont, said that flood damage was so extensive in Jefferson County that the agency had trouble finding a suitable location for them.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster recovery center, where Harvey victims can register for assistance and find a number of other services from state, federal and local organizations. Until Monday, when a third center opened in Hamshire, there were only two in Jefferson county — this one in Beaumont and another in Port Arthur. Ken Higginbotham, a FEMA spokesman in Beaumont, said flood damage was so extensive in the county that the agency had trouble finding suitable locations for the centers. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
Veda Armstead takes a phone call outside of a Beaumont disaster recovery center. Armstead said she was able to save some clothing from her flooded house — a few items that were hanging or on higher shelves — but that everything else was “wiped out.” She’s currently moving between the homes of friends and relatives while she figures out whether she’ll be able to make repairs on her home.
Veda Armstead takes a phone call outside of a Beaumont disaster recovery center. Armstead said she was able to save some clothing from her flooded house — a few items that were hanging or on high shelves — but everything else was “wiped out.” She’s moving between the homes of friends and relatives while she figures out whether she’ll be able to make repairs to her home. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
Cinnamon Perry, left seated, said she would be living in a tent in a nearby RV park until she figured out what to do next after flooding destroyed her home in Winnie, Texas.
Cinnamon Perry, seated left, said she would be living in a tent in a nearby RV park until she figured out what to do next after flooding destroyed her home in Winnie. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
Crystal and Ollie Green rode their bikes to the Beaumont disaster recovery center, where they are seeking help after their apartment flooded.
Crystal and Ollie Green rode their bikes to the Beaumont disaster recovery center, where they are seeking help after their apartment flooded. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Even with help from the state and other Texas cities, Houston's massive post-Harvey debris piles will take months to remove, local officials say. [Full story]

  • Food banks, pantries and other food access advocates are bracing for increased need in communities that struggled with food insecurity even before Hurricane Harvey — and planning how to meet needs in the months of recovery still ahead. [Full story]

  • The outage was caused flooding near a pump station located along the Neches River, officials said in a statement. The city also lost its secondary water source at the Loeb Wells. [Full story]

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