While La Cañada baked in a heat wave with temperatures climbing as high as 114 ℉, less than 2,000 miles away the largest state in the continental US was drowning in floodwaters. Hurricane Harvey, the massive storm that made landfall on August 25, left a real impact on natives of southeast Texas. The hurricane, classified as Category Four by the Saffir-Simpson scale, boasted winds of up to 145 mph and dumped a record-breaking 51.88 inches of rain in five days in an area which normally receives only 50 inches in a year. In comparison, Hurricane Katrina, from which the affected area of New Orleans, Louisiana is still recovering, was only a Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall in 2005. Since the Houston area is so flat, all of this water had nowhere to go, causing extreme flooding.
So far, Harvey has taken at least forty lives, including that of Sergeant Steve Perez, a veteran police officer who drowned on his way to work, and Colette Sulcer, a nurse whose body was found with her three-year-old daughter Jordyn clinging to her as they floated in the floodwaters. The thousands of people who have survived the storm are crowded into makeshift shelters: schools, churches, anything with space and supplies enough to support them. However, many of these shelters are crammed to their maximum limits and low on supplies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), relief organizations, the Texas National Guard, local authorities, and even regular residents are all working together to help rescue those trapped inside their homes. The Coast Guard asked trapped individuals, if possible, to climb onto their roofs and wave towels so that rescuers can easily see them.
President Trump arrived in Houston on Friday, September 1. He and First Lady Melania Trump visited shelters, handed out food, and spoke with evacuees and volunteers. Earlier in the week, he pledged $1 million dollars to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, but has not yet specified how he will send the donation.
Harvey has seemed to kick off a disastrous chain of hurricanes on the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Irma, which formed off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, Africa on August 27, has wavered between Category Four and Category Five, with wind speeds of 155 mph, and has already caused massive damage to life and property in the Caribbean islands. Following Irma is Hurricane Jose, classified as Category Four and carrying wind speeds of 150 mph. What makes Hurricane Jose dangerous is that the path it’s following is nearly identical to Hurricane Irma, meaning that its targets are already incredibly weakened. To complete this chain of destruction, Hurricane Katia is moving towards Mexico as a Category Two with wind speeds of 100 mph. This is the first time since 2010 that three hurricanes have existed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Harvey made its second landfall in Louisiana early on August 30. According to The Washington Post, it has weakened to a tropical depression, and the threat of flooding in Louisiana is lessening. While Harvey may have left Texas, the flooding and destruction left in its wake will have repercussions for years to come.
Information for this article came from CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.