Hurricane Harvey | KERA News

Hurricane Harvey

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.

Among the most pressing medical needs facing Houston at the moment: getting people to dialysis treatment.

At DaVita Med Center Dialysis on Tuesday afternoon, nurses tended to dozens of patients on dialysis machines while another 100 people waited their turn. Some were clearly uncomfortable, and a number said they hadn't been dialyzed in four days.

Those delays can be life-threatening.

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.

On Sunday morning Jessica Hulsey woke up in her home in Houston’s East End. She went to her front door to see how high the water had risen – but it wasn’t the water that surprised her.  

Rachel Osier Lindley / KERA News

It’s been days since the waters began rising in Houston, and people are still being rescued from flooded homes. Evacuees are arriving at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. 

The rain just won't stop. More than two days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, the downgraded storm continues to dump water across the region.

So much rain has fallen in the Houston area that the National Weather Service has had to revamp its charts.

Climate researchers agree that climate change can be partially to blame for the devastation. Here's how it has (and hasn't) shaped the course of the storm.

Updated at 12:15 a.m. ET

The National Hurricane Center says Harvey is now a tropical depression. As of 8 p.m. ET, the storm was located southwest of Alexandria, La., with sustained winds of 35 mph.

As Tropical Storm Harvey, it had made landfall in Louisiana, at 4 a.m. Central time, just west of Cameron, according to the Center.

The confirmed death toll from Harvey is at least 25, across five Texas counties — although that figure is likely to rise and does not include people who are missing or believed dead.

Brandon McElveen's Ford F150 pickup is lifted up about six inches. He says that's just the style in the South, but this week, "it's come in handy" for driving through up to four feet of water.

McElveen's a counselor at the KIPP Explore Academy elementary school in Houston. Within hours of the flooding this week, he began getting calls and messages asking for help. One was from a family with two girls on the middle school softball team he also coaches.

With his truck and a borrowed kayak, he estimates he's helped more than 20 people to safety.

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."

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Folks who know firsthand how devastating a natural disaster can be, have a unique take on Hurricane Harvey, and what's ahead for survivors.

When tornadoes ripped through North Texas the day after Christmas in 2015, hundreds of families had to completely rebuild their lives. This kind of financial disruption can take years to sort out.

Port Aransas residents are just beginning to get a firsthand look at what happened to their homes and businesses after Harvey came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane Friday.

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.

Houstonian Jim McIngvale, known as "Mattress Mack," has turned his two furniture stores into temporary shelters for Tropical Storm Harvey evacuees.

As the city started to flood, he posted a video online with a simple message: Come on over. He gave out his personal phone number. And hundreds of people streamed in.

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.

Updated 10:50 p.m. ET

The medical examiner of Harris County, Texas, has confirmed five deaths directly stemming from Tropical Storm Harvey. A spokesperson for the office says another eight deaths that may be linked to the storm are awaiting autopsy.

The ME names four of the victims, including police Sgt. Steve Perez, whose death was announced Tuesday.

  • Alexander Kwoksum Sung, male, 64, place of death South Houston, caused by drowning/accident

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.

On Jan. 28, 1986, President Ronald Reagan was supposed to deliver the State of the Union.

Instead, he made a very different address to the nation that day, one that would transform the role of president, making it mandatory thereafter that presidents serve as consoler-in-chief.

5:05 p.m. President Trump has left Austin after meeting with state officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety.  

4:18 p.m. Trump again praised state relief efforts following Tropical Storm Harvey, according to pool reports. The president said the recovery is going to be long term, but that it would be a "costly proposition." 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Dallas, Fort Worth and Irving officials made preparations Monday to house evacuees from Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.   

Jacqueline Woodfork drove through the rain and slept on a highway before she finally found shelter from the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey.

"I saw cars turning around because the rainfall was so heavy and because the exits were all flooded," says Woodfork, 29. Her car battery died on an elevated portion of Interstate 45 after she left her Houston apartment on Saturday.

Many of Tropical Storm Harvey's stranded flood victims haven't been able to get through to 911, compounding their fears. That's when Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor stepped in.

Annie Swinford is one of the many unofficial volunteers helping fellow Houstonians via the Facebook group Hurricane Harvey 2017 - Together We Will Make It.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Just days into one of the biggest storms to hit the U.S. in decades, authorities have rescued thousands of people in Houston alone. And as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, continue to rise across southeast Texas and neighboring Louisiana, officials expect that still thousands more evacuees will need to be sheltered in the days to come.

Courtesy Mia Mullins

For many Texans ravaged by the rain and winds Hurricane Harvey carried ashore this past weekend, filing an insurance claim for the damage their property sustained is probably the farthest thing from their minds right now. But waiting to submit a claim past Friday could cost them big.

The colors the National Weather Service uses to show rainfall on its weather map couldn't represent the deluge in southeastern Texas, so the NWS added two more purple shades to its map. The old scale topped out at more than 15 inches; the new limit tops 30 inches.

Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Nearly three days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, more statewide resources were deployed to address rescue efforts in Southeast Texas Monday.

The scale of the catastrophe hitting southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana has residents struggling to protect their lives and property, as up to 50 inches of rain is forecast to hit some areas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey this week.

For a sign of the conditions in Houston and nearby areas, consider this: The U.S. Coast Guard says it's "conducting urban search and rescue in the city of Houston."

Pu Ying Huang for The Texas Tribune

Walking the soggy streets of her League City neighborhood, Diane Alston said she was “heartbroken” that so many people waited out Harvey’s steady rains from inside their flooding homes, following instructions from local officials.

Updated at 5:07 p.m.

As historic flooding continues in Houston, President Trump said federal money for areas affected by Tropical Storm Harvey would arrive quickly.

"You're going to have what you need and it's going to go fast," he said at a joint news conference Monday afternoon with the president of Finland.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

In Houston, reservoirs swollen by rain from Hurricane Harvey were opened early Monday, a move that was expected to flood more homes — but one that the Army Corps of Engineers says is needed to limit the scope of the disaster that's threatening lives and property in Texas.

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