Houston | KERA News

Houston

Updated Thursday, Aug. 31 at 2:45 p.m. ET

As devastating floods continue across Houston and along the Texas coast, rescue teams have brought hope, heroism and much-needed relief to the stranded.

But help came too late for some. At least 29 people are confirmed to have died in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and unprecedented flooding, and the death toll is expected to rise.

Houston Police say 60-year-old Sgt. Steve Perez, trying to get to work despite Hurricane Harvey, drowned in his patrol car in floodwaters.

In a somber news conference Tuesday afternoon, Police Chief Art Acevedo said Perez's wife, Cheryl, had asked her husband not to report to work Sunday morning. But Perez, who had been on the police force for 34 years and was just a few days short of his 61st birthday, insisted on going in.

Erica Brown called 911 for two days before a helicopter finally spotted her, trapped in her Houston home with her 7-month-old son and three other children. Sometimes when she called, she got nothing, just a busy signal and a disconnection. Multiple times she was told that they'd try to send help. Hours would go by with no rescue.

The family spent two nights in their trailer watching the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise up the foundation. "It was a hard feeling because I thought me and my kids were going to lose our life in this hurricane disaster."

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

When disaster strikes, stories often emerge about people who go above and beyond to serve others. People like Mattress Mack, the Houston business owner who invited Hurricane Harvey evacuees into his two giant furniture stores, even sending out trucks to pick up people who couldn't get there.

Tropical Storm Harvey has brought the mighty Texas oil refining industry to its knees, at least temporarily, and Texas drivers are just starting to feel the pain.

Houston is grappling with a disaster of epic proportions from Hurricane Harvey, as the now-tropical storm continues to dump rain on the region. On Sunday, the death toll rose to eight, including a family of six who drowned in a van while trying to escape the rising waters.

The historic Houston flood of 2017 is deepening, and with it, there are more water rescues — at least 2,000 by Monday afternoon. People who believed that they could wait it out or that the water would go down are realizing they have to get out.

The remnants of now-Tropical Storm Harvey have all but parked over south Texas and the storm is inundating the region around Houston with "unprecedented" rain, according to the National Weather Service.

Houstonians have been stranded in their homes, and some of those who were on the roads were in need of rescue as areas of Houston received as much as two feet of rain with no immediate end in sight.

Then-Hurricane Harvey made landfall late Friday evening near Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest storms to make landfall in recent history.

Updated at 7:04 p.m.

The National Weather Center is calling Tropical Storm Harvey "unprecedented" and says all impacts are unknown. The agency now reports rainfall from the storm could reach 50 inches — the highest ever recorded in Texas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says this "disaster is going to be a landmark event."

Updated at 1:30 a.m. ET Monday

At least two people have been killed as the Houston area continues to be inundated by torrential rain and catastrophic flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey, which officials called an "unprecedented" weather event that has left thousands of homes flooded, stranding some people and overwhelming rescue workers.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

In Houston, police say there are solvable property crime cases with no one to solve them. Dallas officers are taking more time to respond to fewer emergency calls, and both cities are slower to get to non-emergency situations.

From Texas Standard:

The saying, you’re only as good as your equipment, has serious implications for first responders. A faulty service weapon can mean the difference between life and death for police officers and those they protect, which makes what's happening in Houston all the more frightening.

Tamir Kalifa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday threw out a lower court ruling that said spouses of gay and lesbian public employees are entitled to government-subsidized same-sex marriage benefits. The state's highest civil court ordered a trial court to reconsider the case.

From Texas Standard:

By now you’ve likely heard of fentanyl, one of the narcotics at the center of the nation’s opioid crisis. But now, authorities in Houston are issuing an urgent warning that goes beyond the narrative of addiction. Officials have found a powerful analogue of fentanyl, carfentanil, a drug so powerful that mere skin contact can lead to lethal exposure.

From U.S. House Floor, Texas Democrat Calls For Trump's Impeachment

May 17, 2017
Official House portrait

Amid multiple Trump-related scandals rocking the Capitol, U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump from the House chamber on Wednesday morning. 

Texas landowners opposed to a high-speed train line between Dallas and Houston took to the Capitol Thursday and early Friday to warn lawmakers that the project would ruin rural lifestyles and prevent growth in the counties between the two cities.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

The bruising battles over legislative fixes to failing pension systems in Dallas and Houston could eventually evolve into a statewide war over the kind of retirement funds public employees should be offered.

Former President George H.W. Bush Discharged From Hospital

Apr 28, 2017
Jim McGrath, Bush spokesman / Twitter

Former President George H.W. Bush was discharged from Houston Methodist Hospital on Friday after recovering from a persistent cough and pneumonia, spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement.

Dave Fehling NPR StateImpact / KUHF Houston Public Radio

In a huge win for environmental groups, a federal judge has ordered ExxonMobil to pay nearly $20 million for spewing millions of pounds of excess air pollution from its Houston-area industrial facilities.

In Dallas And Houston, Pension Fights Escalating, Sparking Unexpected Debates

Apr 17, 2017
Turner: Bob Daemmrich/Rawlings: Eric Schlagel / The Texas Tribune

Pension leaders and elected officials in Dallas and Houston had one job: Get all parties from each city on the same page about how to shore up multi-billion-dollar retirement fund shortfalls before seeking help from state lawmakers.

A couple flying to Costa Rica for their wedding were removed from a United Airlines flight in Houston on Saturday.

The incident happened nearly a week after a video showing a passenger being dragged off a Chicago-to-Louisville flight went viral.

Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell are scheduled to get married on Thursday.

Shutterstock

To live “comfortably” in Dallas these days, you’ll need $57,984 per year, according to a report published this week by Go Banking Rates, a financial website.

Norihiro Kataoka

The Texas Senate's transportation committee sent to the full Senate on Wednesday five high-speed train bills, some of which could impact or hinder a private company's plans to build a bullet train from Dallas to Houston.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Texas Death Row Inmate

Mar 28, 2017
TDCJ/Abby Livingston / The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Texas death row inmate Tuesday, sending his case back to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and invalidating the state's current method of determining if a death-sentenced inmate is intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for execution. Texas' method relies on decades-old medical standards and a controversial set of factors.

Billions In Pension Shortfalls Threatening Texas Cities' Budgets

Dec 2, 2016
Illustration by Todd Wiseman / Vittorio Ferrari / Texas Tribune

The state’s largest cities face tens of billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities to employee pension funds, a series of separate financial situations that is spurring massive account withdrawals, ongoing lawsuits, mounting political friction and national media attention.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

With a new school superintendent taking over this fall in Houston, every one of Texas’ eight largest cities now has a Latino running the school district. That’s a big deal in a state with a surging Hispanic population and a history of political underrepresentation. In the first chapter of a statewide collaborative series, KERA digs into the implications for students, schools and the politics of education.

San Francisco Unified School District

When school starts this fall, the two biggest systems in Texas will be led by Latinos. Last year, Dallas rehired Michael Hinojosa as superintendent. Today, Houston's board of trustees unanimously chose Richard Carranza as sole finalist for its top job.

KERA News

KERA won five awards from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. -- the station's best-ever performance in public radio's premiere national contest. The station also took home four Lone Star Awards from the Houston Press Club.

That brings KERA's award count for this year to 29 -- another record.

Texas Colleges Staying Out of Bathroom Battles for Now

Jun 13, 2016
Laura Buckman / Texas Tribune

At the University of Houston, transgender students can enroll in voice feminization or masculinization clinics. At the University of Texas at Austin, students can write a simple letter to change how their gender is listed in school records. And many colleges in the state have maps on their websites showing the locations of dozens of on-campus gender-neutral bathrooms.

 

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