QUOTE OF THE DAY
“God always has a purpose and a mission for you. I didn’t know I was going over there on a mission. I was just going over there for my own sake to look.”
—Reverend Audrey “Dale” Carter to Click2Houston. As floodwaters rose in Houston, Carter swam out to inspect submerged cars to make sure that no one was trapped inside.
Two days after plant officials urged everyone in a 1.5-mile radius to evacuate the area, a fire broke out at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, releasing chemicals and smoke on Thursday morning. Despite initial reports of two explosions—which the plant has braced for since it lost power after taking in six feet of water—Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez clarified Thursday morning that the fire and chemicals released were caused by containers popping. “It wasn’t an explosion, I want to be very clear. It was not an explosion,” Gonzalez said, according to NPR. The sheriff added that the chemicals released are not toxic, and that the surrounding community should not worry about potential toxicity from this release. Still, the plant isn’t in the clear just yet. It began preparing for the worst when it lost power after Hurricane Harvey, thus losing the ability to safely store the highly-flammable organic peroxides kept in the facility, and plant officials are urging further caution. “We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains,” the company said in a short news release early Thursday morning. “Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so.”
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
A federal district judge in Texas temporarily halted the implementation of the so-called sanctuary city bill late Wednesday, according to the Texas Tribune. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled against the state of Texas and granted a preliminary injunction against Senate Bill 4, which was set to go into effect on September 1. The law would punish municipalities and officials that do not cooperate with federal requests for immigration detainers and allow law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people that they stop. Garcia blocked the part of the law that would require jails to honor all detainer requests, which he said violated the Fourth Amendment. Governor Greg Abbott, who championed the bill, promised an immediate appeal. “Today’s decision makes Texas’ communities less safe,” he said in a statement. “Because of this ruling, gang members and dangerous criminals, like those who have been released by the Travis County Sheriff, will be set free to prey upon our communities. U.S. Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas’ law are firmly on our side. This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas’ law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld.”
Wet But Dry
City officials announced early Thursday that Beaumont lost both its main and secondary water supply due to flooding and could be without water for days, according to the Beaumont Enterprise. Floodwaters crippled the cities main pump near the Neches River early Thursday morning. “Seriously bad news. The City of Beaumont will be without water for the next several days,” councilman Mike Getz posted on Facebook at 1 a.m., according to the Enterprise. “Fill your bathtubs with water now.” The city must wait for waters to recede before it can begin work on the pump, so the timeline for repair is unclear. “We will have to wait until the water levels from this historical flood recede before we can determine the extent of damage and make any needed repairs,” the city said in a press release. “There is no way to determine how long this will take at this time.”
The Houston Chronicle reported that at least 40 people as of Wednesday afternoon have been arrested for looting in Harris County. A Walgreens near Brays Bayou and a Fiesta Mart were both hit, with money, liquor, and cell phones taken in the process. The reports come amid a city-wide curfew in Houston, which is designed to curb crime in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. “It was effective,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said of the midnight to 5 a.m. curfew. “It’s going to remain in effect until we kind of get past the situations we’re in.” As the Chronicle reports, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg is working with local law enforcement to put in place enhanced punishments for people caught looting, including possible life sentences for people for those arrested breaking into homes.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
What President Trump learned from Hurricane Harvey The New Yorker
Is Hurricane Harvey the new normal for coastal cities? The Atlantic
Politico’s post-Harvey cartoon about conservatives was “tone-deaf” The Washington Post
Inside the George R. Brown Convention Center, a temporary home to 10,000 CNN