Hurricane Harvey | KERA News

Hurricane Harvey

For a storm that has sparked references to flooding on a Biblical scale, it only makes sense that you'd find a kind of Noah's Ark in south Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

On the outskirts of Beaumont, Texas, two huge county fair pavilions the size of baseball diamonds have been transformed by volunteers into a makeshift livestock yard and animal shelter.

It's a bedlam of animals, animal handlers and supply trucks.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Houston bills itself the most diverse big city in America. A quarter of the population was born outside of the U.S. – and a third of that number is undocumented. Because of federal rules that limit aid to those residents, that presents a huge challenge after a disaster like Hurricane Harvey.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Fateyva Miles has been a mail carrier in the Houston area for three years. She moved there from Michigan.

“I kinda don’t like the flooding, but I love Houston,” she said.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

More than 3,000 evacuees are sheltering in North Texas. Sleeping on cots and recycling the same clothes every few days can be a grind.

At one Dallas shelter, just a few days before it closed, volunteers were bringing fun.

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.

Courtesy of Arkema Group Facebook page

As efforts to rebuild have slowly begun in areas hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, officials continue to warn of lingering environmental hazards, including the health risks posed by receding floodwater.

Texas officials say all fires have been mostly extinguished at the Arkema chemical plant in the flood-ravaged Houston area after authorities launched controlled burns Sunday. Hurricane Harvey had damaged the plant, triggering several fires already.

The six remaining trailers were ignited at the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT News

As soon as the floodwaters receded in East Houston, the Hernandez family got to work.

Michael Stravato / The Texas Tribune

Local, state and federal officials took to national airwaves Sunday to discuss recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey and project a largely positive message.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

In Houston, baseball fans welcomed back their team on Saturday. The Astros played a double-header against the New York Mets – the first games at home since Harvey slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast.

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.

After thousands of people were forced to leave their homes as a result of the flooding in Houston over the weekend, many have one thing on their minds: their pets.

As the water began to rise, Thomas Hayes, 73, stayed in his house in the neighborhood of Tidwell with his five dogs. He measured the water's climb by the height it hit on his car — first covering the tires, then the bumper, and it continued to rise. He didn't want to leave his home without his dogs.

"I wouldn't do it," he says. "I wouldn't leave without them."

White House

President Donald Trump returned to Texas on Saturday to check in on the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort and meet with victims of the storm that ravaged southeast Texas. 

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is asking Congress for nearly $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey aid as the search-and-rescue phase is slowly giving way to recovery more than a week after the storm slammed into southeastern Texas.

Trump visits Texas and Louisiana

President Trump made his second trip to the region Saturday, beginning in Houston with a visit to the NRG Center, which is serving as a shelter for Harvey victims.

From Texas Standard:

Thousands of people are finding their way to dry blankets and warm socks in shelters all across Texas. Dallas expects to host as many as 10,000 people fleeing Harvey; in Austin, as many as 7,000. Donations keep trickling in.

Facing tremendous need after Hurricane Harvey, Texas has made it easier for out-of-state health care providers to come and help.

Rachel Osier Lindley / KERA News

St. Joseph Medical Center is downtown Houston’s only hospital, located just down the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center, where thousands of evacuees have been staying since Harvey hit.  

Some doctors and nurses have been on the clock for almost a full week.

Cathy Frisinger/UT Southwestern Medical Center

About 700 people spent the night Thursday at the shelter at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Caring for evacuees after a natural disaster presents a huge medical challenge, which Dr. Ray Fowler of UT Southwestern Medical Center knows well.   

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Among the hundreds of Harvey evacuees currently in Dallas are children who need to go to school. A small private school stepped up initially, but the district will have to take in more students and provide a long-term solution.

Now that the rain has stopped and floodwaters are slowly starting to recede, government officials are figuring out where tens of thousands of evacuees in Texas and Louisiana can stay.

The White House estimates about 100,000 houses were affected by the storm. Many were destroyed or are too damaged to live in. More than 30,000 people are staying in emergency shelters and will soon be in need of permanent accommodations.

There isn't a city in the United States, and there are probably very few anywhere in the world, that could have handled Hurricane Harvey's 50 inches of rain without significant flooding.

But Harvey was Houston's third flood in three years to surpass the "100 year flood" mark. Urban planners and civil engineers say a combination of natural and man-made factors has created a chronic drainage problem that left the city especially vulnerable to Harvey's torrential rains.

Earlier this week, as torrents of rain fell on Houston, Craig Boyan, CEO of the H-E-B supermarket chain, went on a video-taped tour of his company's emergency operations center in San Antonio, Texas. The company later made the video available online.

Courtesy of Kevin Pickard

Cars are lined up at some gas stations across North Texas — and fuel prices in the state and across the country have jumped by at least 10 cents since Harvey pounded Houston and the Gulf coast.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT News

With the skies finally clearing over the Houston area, residents are getting their first chance to survey the damage and catalogue what was lost. 

Updated at 10:40 p.m. ET

Fire broke out and containers of chemicals burst at the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas, early Thursday, confirming fears that highly flammable organic peroxides produced at the plant could pose a threat after Hurricane Harvey knocked out safety systems.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Nereyda Rangel sang to her newborn daughter at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi. The building sits only a few blocks from Corpus Christi Bay, which spills into the Texas Gulf Coast.

As Hurricane Harvey brewed in the Gulf, Shaddai Jireh Leija fought for her life. Soon, she and other newborns would need more than just medical care. They would need help getting out of there.

The rain has let up in Houston, but getting in and out of the city is still a difficult task. Houston's two main airports reopened Wednesday with limited service. But many roads are flooded, and some bridges have been damaged.

Since Saturday, when both the airports shut down, thousands of flights in and out the city have been canceled. Up to now, at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the runways were open only for limited operations and humanitarian flights.

This week was supposed to be the start of a brand-new school year for the 200,000, or so, students in the Houston Independent School District.

Instead, kids, teachers and staff are dealing with the fallout from Harvey's record-breaking rainfall and devastating floods.

Richard Carranza, Houston schools superintendent, is trying to figure out when school can start — and where, in cases where high waters flooded out schools and homes. Even as he recognizes this school year will be very different, he says the focus will be on teaching kids, wherever Harvey has scattered them.

In southeastern Texas, about two dozen hospitals remained closed as of midafternoon Wednesday, and several Houston hospitals remain under threat of flooding from nearby reservoirs.

But things are looking up. Some hospitals that had been evacuated have reopened, and others are restoring services they had temporarily suspended. Many never closed at all.

As flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey continues in Southeast Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said the number of counties on the federal government’s disaster declaration has been expanded to 33. That expansion includes counties outside of Harvey's path that are helping evacuees in shelters – including Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis.

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