QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Otis can go to Dairy Queen and he can get a hamburger. He’s the only dog allowed to lie down in front of the county court house. He also goes to HEB. He’s not a stray. He’s a good dog.”
—Salvador Segovia, of Sinton, to the Houston Chronicle. The 65-year-old was caring for Otis, a German shepherd mix, when he accidentally got loose Friday night. A photo of Otis carrying a bag of dog food through the city’s Hurricane Harvey-ravaged streets went viral, and Otis has become a symbol of the strong Texas spirit in the face of a deadly disaster. Good boy, Otis.
Storm of the Century
Hurricane Harvey arrived in Texas late Friday night, attacking the coast as a Category 4 storm. Its 130 mph winds wrecked coastal bend cities like Rockport and swept through Corpus Christi and Galveston before Harvey parked over Southeast Texas for the weekend, saturating a large part of the state with rain and bringing catastrophic flooding to Houston. The hurricane knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of people along the coastal bend, and brought down buildings in Rockport and Port Aransas on Friday night, leaving one person dead and more than a dozen injured in Rockport. As Harvey moved inland, unrelenting rain began. The storm dropped more than nine trillion gallons of water in the Houston area and over Southeast Texas. “This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced,” the National Weather Service tweeted on Sunday. Some parts of Houston saw two feet of rain in less than 24 hours, while other areas have seen a total of 50 inches of rain. Virtually no area of Houston was spared. There have been at least six confirmed deaths, but as rescue workers continue to search flooded streets and homes, the death toll is expected to rise. The event is being called a once-in-a-million flood, a disaster of biblical proportions that has crippled the largest city in the state and its surrounding region. The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency told the Washington Post on Sunday that this is “the worst disaster the state’s seen.” And it’s not over yet—according to the Weather Channel, the center of Harvey is exected to crawl off the middle Texas coast on Monday and hang just offshore through Tuesday, before moving back in on Wednesday.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Texans responded in heroic ways as Harvey wreaked havoc. In Houston, more than 6,000 people called 911 for high-water rescues, according to the Houston Press, and an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 water rescues have taken place there as of late Sunday night. The images and videos of rescue attempts are dramatic. The Coast Guard airlifted dozens of people to safety from their boats on the churning waters outside Port Aransas. Fifteen senior citizens were saved from a nursing home in Dickinson after a viral photo showing elderly women nearly submerged in rising floodwater circulated on social media, according to the Galveston Daily News. A reporter for Houston’s CBS affiliate KHOU broadcasted live as she helped first responders save a stranded truck driver before floodwater filled his cabin. And as rescue workers struggled to reach affected areas, volunteers all over Texas took their own personal boats out over the rising waters to save their neighbors. More help is on the way. First responders are heading toward Harvey-afflicted areas from all across the state, and even as far away as California and New York.
As Harvey barreled toward Texas and pummeled our cities, President Donald Trump tweeted a lot. In multiple tweets, he urged Texans to be safe and showed he was keeping tabs on the situation. But he also made several major non-storm related moves, such as pardoning former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and signing a ban on transgender military members, both of which drew criticism for supposedly using the storm to shield potential blowback. In between cheerful Twitter updates praising the federal, state, and local responses to Harvey, Trump also took time to tweet praise for a newly released book authored by controversial Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, once again called for the construction of a border wall, and threatened to terminate NAFTA. He also announced a trip to Texas. “I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety,” Trump wrote on Sunday morning, before following up with a second tweet: “I will also be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in ’16. Dem C.M. is opposed to big tax cuts. Republican will win S!” Trump is scheduled to arrive in Texas on Tuesday. His last tweet about Harvey came on Sunday night. “HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible.Thanks!”
You don’t need a boat to help out with the rescue and recovery efforts—though if you do have one, your assistance is sorely needed. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced over the weekend that it’s looking for volunteer help with water rescues. If you have a “high-water, safe boat or vehicle,” the agency asks that you please help out (call the Harris County Fire Marshall’s Office at 713-881-3100 to coordinate ways you can help with rescues). Texas Monthly‘s Dan Solomon has compiled a list of reputable aid organizations you should donate to if you can, covering everything from dog food to diapers. Houston Texans star J.J. Watt has already raised nearly $300,000 on a fundraising website he set up during the storm. The Huffington Post has a solid list of ways to give money, give blood, or provide services and housing. Also, definitely read this ProPublica article about how to give to the right aid organizations after a disaster.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Houston wasn’t ready for Hurricane Harvey Texas Tribune
Read this story about a Rockport man who braved the storm in a truck with his wife and four dogs Dallas Morning News
Houston, before and after Harvey New York Times
Harvey might destroy the federal flood insurance program and ruin homeowners The Atlantic
Rockport’s 1,000-year-old tree survived Harvey Houston Chronicle