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Houston Devastated by 500-Year Flood As Rain Keeps Falling

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/explainer/article/The-trouble-with-living-in-a-swamp-Houston-7954514.php
Houston Devastated by 500-Year Flood As Rain Keeps Falling
Christina Comben

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday as a category 4 storm, picking up and devastating homes, trees, power lines and traffic signs in its wake. Yet, as the howling winds began to lose force and ferocity and the hurricane was downgraded from category 4 to category 1, many breathed a sigh of relief. But oftentimes, the most dangerous element of a hurricane is not the wind, but the rain that follows. The Houston flooding is now bad and getting worse.

Houston Flooding Set to Continue

 

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The Texan city of Houston is bracing itself for as much as one year’s rainfall within a week. The consequences so far have been catastrophic, with thousands already evacuated from their homes. Billions of dollars in damage and widespread loss of life are expected.

So far, this Texan city and surrounding area have already seen over 30 inches of rain over the weekend, and the Houston flooding isn’t giving up. Torrential rains continue as those in their houses do their best to keep the drains clear and move their valuables higher.

Yet hope is running out for many who were early in reporting that their properties were safe in the storm, as the Houston flooding, the worst in the state’s history, is relentless. Helicopters are evacuating people from rooftops.

Other evacuations are taking place by boat, as the main roads and freeways of the city are turned into rivers. As the 911 lines begin to become saturated, emergency services are pleading people to call only in a life-or-death situation and to use social media, such as Twitter, to contact the evacuation services.

Yet, at this point, with millions of people set to be uprooted, many will have to rely on themselves and their neighbors.

Roads Closed And Hospitals Evacuated

 

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For those trapped in their houses or trying to see out what they thought would be heavy winds and some rain, time is running out. Most people, though, have been advised at this point not to leave their homes, as there are hundreds of roads closed, and more people on the roads could lead to an even greater catastrophe.

Instead of moving upstairs in their homes, for homes with water entering in and raising higher, people have been advised to get on top of their roofs. Doctors from around the country have been sent to Houston to help with the Houston flooding. But, as power begins to cut out across the city, many hospitals have also been evacuated now.

As residents wake up to a Monday morning, nothing will be typical in their water-flooded city. Schools are closed, both of Houston’s airports are also out of operation as the runways are flooded. With heavy rain predicted to continue well into the middle of the week, the damage from the Houston flooding is set to continue, with thousands of people rescued and potentially millions more in need.

The Death Toll of Houston Flooding Set to Rise

 

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So far, there have been five deaths reported. These have been mainly from people trapped in submerged vehicles, which is why people are being advised not to hit the roads. The death toll though, is expected to rise in the face of what the National Weather Service (NWS) calls an “unprecedented” event.

Travel has now been rendered near impossible with “flash flood emergency” situation issued across the entire Houston Metro area. Shelters are opening up all over the city for people who are having to leave their homes.

Many Texans are knee-deep in water in their own living rooms, with other hazards involved, such as waters filled with native alligators and debris. The pictures to emerge out of the Houston flooding are simply unbelievable, with people fishing, skiing and taking to the skies to escape the water.

Galveston And Surrounding Areas Also Hit Hard

The increasingly populated island city of Galveston has also been hit by catastrophic flooding on Sunday night. Care homes have been evacuated and many have been forced to leave their property in the face of what only looks to be worse news as waterways that extend across the Houston area begin to rise.

The Houston flooding is the worst catastrophe to hit the city and surrounding area. Hurricane Harvey may have been downgraded to a tropical storm since it first hit land on Friday, but its effects are being felt now.

The National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service predictions are grim, as “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding”, especially in south-eastern Texas, are predicted. Things are only set to get worse over the days to come.

 

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Help on Hand for Houston Flooding

Help is beginning to reach affected areas from the rest of the country, with the U.S. Coast Guard requesting more helicopters to evacuate people from the Houston flooding.

President Donald Trump is set to visit the disaster-struck state this Tuesday to offer his support and see firsthand what damage has been done. He has been quick to react in the face of hurricane Harvey, already signing a disaster proclamation on Friday. This has made it easier for federal cash to be released to go towards relief efforts for the Houston flooding and other hard-hit areas.

For the large hispanic population in Houston and any other people in need of emergency interpreting assistance, whether medical, legal or general, Day Translations is offering free over-the-phone and in-person interpreters (where possible) in the Houston area. If you need or know anyone in need of language assistance, please call toll-free on 1-800-969-6853.

How Much Will The Houston Flooding Cost?

Some insurance experts are already saying that the cost of the Houston flooding could equal that of the damages of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which was by far the most expensive and devastating natural disaster in the history of the USA–until now. Hurricane Katrina cost around $15 billion worth damage in flooding across Louisiana and Mississippi.

Yet, in the face of more and more rain predicted, it is simply too early to estimate the cost. Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, is currently urging people not to call 911 unless they absolutely need to be rescued, to not get on the roads and to not assume that the storm is over even if there is a break in the rain, as this is likely to continue for days.

The rain is not the only culprit, despite the downgrading of the storm, strong winds are making rescue efforts harder. The Houston flooding is also likely to have an effect on the massive U.S. oil and gas industry there. Exxon Mobil has shut down its second-largest refinery in the U.S. in the city of Baytown. Costs are likely to push up the cost of oil and gas for the foreseeable future.

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