Monday, August 28, 2017

Houston mayor explains why the city wasn't evacuated ahead of Harvey's flood disaster

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
August 28,2017, 12:49:24PM,EDT
As Harvey’s rainfall led to an unprecedented flooding situation around Houston, thousands of water rescues were initiated to help stranded residents who were trapped by rising flood waters.
As the perilous situation unfolded, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner defended the decision not to issue evacuation orders ahead of the flooding rain.
“Well, the reality is this is unprecedented,” Turner said at a Sunday press conference. “There’s a lot of rain, so which neighborhood would you have to evacuate? Quite frankly, every neighborhood, every community received water and are flooded. Every bayou went over its banks. You cannot put in the city of Houston, 2.3 million people on the road. That is dangerous.”
Between Houston and an evacuation of surrounding Harris County, there would’ve been over 6.5 million people on the road, Turner explained.
Turner stressed that any evacuation must be fully planned and well coordinated from Houston to the destination point. This includes making sure there are gas stations along the evacuation route and that traffic lanes are flowing in the right direction.
harvey evacuation
Residents are evacuated from their homes surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

"If you do it or attempt to do it, and it’s not coordinated, not done right, you are literally putting people in harm's way, and you're creating a far worse situation," Turner said.
From 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, through 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, Houston emergency services received over 56,000 calls for assistance. On an average day, they usually handle about 8,000 calls.
First responders remained active conducting water rescues on Monday, and law enforcement officials have called on locals with boats to volunteer if possible.
By the numbers: Exploring the statistics of Harvey's horrific impact in Texas
How to help: Donate to assist Harvey victims reeling from the storm's catastrophic damage
Photos: Harvey’s devastating flooding forces over 1,500 water rescues in Houston

As of Monday morning, over 2,000 community members had been rescued with 185 requests for help still pending.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said on Monday morning that over 30,000 people will need to stay in temporary shelters.
In 2005, a major evacuation from Houston was ordered in advance of Hurricane Rita, but that didn't go as smoothly as hoped. It led to the worst gridlock in the city's history, according to the Houston Chronicle and over 100 people died in the process.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on Friday that all residents should follow voluntary evacuation orders and heed warnings and evacuation orders from local officials.
By Sunday, the issue of rescuing victims rather than discussing the need for an evacuation had taken precedent.
"We've moved beyond whether or not there should have been an evacuation or not," Abbott said, according to CNN. "We're at a stage where we just need to respond to the emergencies the people of Houston are facing.
Other emergency officials defended the mayor’s decision.
"Local officials know best. Houston has no evacuation order. In Harris County: very limited to select communities. LOCAL LEADERS KNOW BEST," Harris County spokesperson Francisco Sanchez said.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett explained that if storm surge was the primary threat rather than heavy rain, then evacuations would probably be necessary. Some coastal areas did issue voluntary evacuations due to a smaller storm surge danger, he added.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office told residents in need of rescue to hang a towel or sheet prominently so rescuers could identify them more easily.

The mayor said that while Houston was not in the direct path of Harvey, officials anticipated a lot of rain.
Turner said the safest places for residents to be during the storm were their homes, especially since cities such as Austin and San Antonio suffered from significant flooding.
"This is a large city; there's a lot of people," he said. "When the flooding is occurring all over the city, all over the county, there's not many places for you to go."

Click the image above to donate now to United Way to help Hurricane Harvey victims.

Marcel Metz ·
My hobby is weather. I evacuated during hurricane Katrina. I did not depend on Mayor (D) Ray Nagin and Goverment Democrat Blanco. I know they does not care about their people. I laughed that people go to Superdome and near Riverwalk. Because of trapped rain and levees was not enough strong. Ray Nagin goes to Federal prison in jail for corruption. He still is in jail for 12 years. Whoa Democrat John Del Edwards is looking on high taxes right now.
George Taylor ·
For those who think evacuation is the proper course permit my experiences in evacuating Houston for the 2008 hurricane. I had a place to go 250 miles away in Dallas. I loaded my disabled wife and 80 year old mother and mother-in-law in my van. 24 1/2 hours of straight through driving got us to Dallas. I had filled my large fuel tank prior to the storm. There was virtually no gas available and saw thousands of stranded car in route. There were very few places to purchase food. I believe more died in the evacuation than in the storm. "Heading North" is not much of an option if there are no accommodations, food or fuel in route.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Jean James ·
Mayor should maybe step down. I would listen to the governor and if I heard there was even a remote possibility of a hurricane, I would have left w/o someone telling me. Then if it didn't happen, I could come back I make my own decisions. I understand people in nursing homes, etc., didn't have that option.
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
Sarah Mcdonald ·
Works at Retired
Perhaps they could evacuate people in organized groups, in a systematic way-so that the roadways wouldn't be jammed up. By sections. each group would have a specific destination.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
Kate Briand ·
it seems, at the very least, an early evacuation of nursing homes and the elderly would have been a good idea
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
Krissy Magruder Greer
Because he's a typical democrat and doesn't care about the people
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
Laura Haskell
Leave it to a con to turn a natural disaster that is killing people into a b.s. political attack. GFY.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Ernie Stacy
I don't think anyone expected to evacuate the whole city but those from known flood prone areas would have helped tremendously
Like · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs
Robert Lilly ·
Is the military helping?
Like · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs
Jean James ·
The National Guard of Texas is there or coming. Already ordered.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Robert Lilly ·
Mm ook thankss navy should be there too
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Timothy Link ·
Works at Self-Employed
how bout that smaller gov. now? and all those Texan repubs, who voted against Sandy releaf funds, what go around....
Mark Smith ·
Learn how to spell "relief' first, then we'll talk.
Like · Reply · 24 mins
Ronnie Cox ·
It's a hurricane! They bring wind, and rain! Your safety is YOUR responsibility, not some government official, so quit depending on them!
Like · Reply · 6 · 6 hrs
Robin Moss
Cause they was asked to leave, if not write ssn# on arm. Weed Trimmer Live bad er than ole King Kong meaner than a junk yard 🐕...
Renne Kouba Pinson
Lived in Florida, and been through a few hurricanes. Newsflash people! You know they are coming! Take resposibility for your own safety and leave your home for high ground! Don't wait for the rocket scientist to tell you!
Like · Reply · 2 · 7 hrs
Cliff Jones
the rocket scientist are flooded as well.
Reply · 4 hrs
David Shaw ·
Works at Retired
When you see one this big time too leave days in Advance!! Seems no common sense left
Like · Reply · 1 · 7 hrs
Sharon Swank
I'm just glad I don't live there now but praying for the people of Houston
Cindy Taylor Flynn ·
No excuses for the elderly in nursing home 😡
Like · Reply · 4 · 8 hrs
Pam Dant
I agree , that is terrible . I saw that it made me so mad. Where was the staff, gone?
Reply · 5 hrs
Linda Jackson ·
Works at Liberty Tax
Why do this? He would be criticized no matter what he decided. There is a catastrophe and we should not be wasting time with this nonsense!
Patricia Wallenberg ·
This just Shows Better Safe than Sorry!! People need to listen n be aware of Severe Weather n make decisions that could protect their life!!
Joel Ratliff
More green spaces are needed, less pavement so the land can soak up the rain and drain it off. We cannot over engineer our way out of this.
Like · Reply · 5 · 9 hrs
Jay Callaghan
Order the evacuation and those trapped in traffic are overcome by flood waters.....don't order an evacuation and those trapped in houses overwhelmed by flood waters.

Seems mayor would be in the wrong on either side of the ball.

Personally if I were to be trapped by rising waters I would rather it be in my home than my car as chances of survival are a lot higher in house.
Like · Reply · 5 · 7 hrs · Edited
Krissy Magruder Greer
He had days to evacuate people and should have an evacuation plan already in place
. He failed
Reply · 2 hrs
Jean James ·
Krissy Magruder Greer maybe people should take it upon theirselves to leave. Don't wait on the government. We are adults.
Reply · 1 hr
Larry Sears Allum ·
9 million people just can not evacuate...
Like · Reply · 3 · 9 hrs
Sue Ables ·
He's a liar
Like · Reply · 1 · 9 hrs
Lauren McGee ·
It should have been ordered in sections, he should be held accountable for any flooding deaths
Like · Reply · 3 · 9 hrs
Lori Abrams Geiger
Totally agree with you Lauren...sections starting before the Hurricane was going to make landfall. The weather service gave warning it was going to stall over the area.
Reply · 2 · 8 hrs
Linda Jackson ·
Works at Liberty Tax
And how exactly would you control that?
Reply · 5 hrs
Sarah Orchard Miracle ·
People, People! Something horrible has happened. Let's not make this political okay? Let's all just be...human, just this once.
Like · Reply · 6 · 9 hrs
Dean Weaver ·
You just can't put 2 million people on the highway ...
Like · Reply · 6 · 9 hrs
Yvonne Heimann ·
I think he made the right decision. Not many life's lost and that's the most important thing.
Like · Reply · 2 · 9 hrs
Terri Cole ·
He is Democrat and the Governor is Republican. The Governor had asked for evacuation. He laughed at the Governor saying it wouldn't be that bad. I with the one who said she would leave no matter what. Look at those people in the Nursing Home. Did he say how the 100 deaths occured before?
Like · Reply · 5 · 9 hrs
Robert Rockwood
Where are 3 million people supposed to evacuate to?
Reply · 8 hrs
Sandra Davis ·
Those 100 deaths occurred when people were trying to evacuate from rita on the interstates. Now what would have happened if those same stranded in cars would have been there when those same interstates flooded the last couple of days.
Reply · 7 hrs
Jennifer Bouwman
I do not understand why they did not pin point areas that are known to be low lying and as a precaution help them leave. I understand you cannot and might not need to move millions of people. Grid lock on the highway might have been a huge worry. But start with certain places, have an exit plan for that neighborhood and do it out of the abundance of caution before it got to this point.
Like · Reply · 10 · 9 hrs
Richard Shepard ·
The forcasters stated almost a week before it hit that it was coming. Why does someone need to ORDER an evacuation. You know you are going to get feet of rain and not inches. There is no way to evacuate 2 million people at the same time and to order people to leave is asking for trouble. History shows that a large city wide evacuation would cause more harm than help.
Like · Reply · 8 · 9 hrs
Debra Sugars
No one knows how much water an individual storm might bring.
This is historical flooding.
I don't understand why people are so judgmental. There are a lot of people in Houston who had no idea of how a storm can effect a city this size. Prayers for everyone in this mess.
Like · Reply · 15 · 9 hrs
Jeff Hess ·
Debra, 100 years of record keeping would no be classified as historical, i would say its the worst since Houston has existed, about 150+- years.
Reply · 1 · 9 hrs
Marilyn Davis ·
Why do people have to nit pick everything. 150 years can be historical to me
Reply · 1 · 8 hrs
Abigail Davis Phelps ·
Jeff, please look up the definition of historical.
Reply · 8 hrs
Steve Kise ·
Turner is a fraud always has been always will be
Jen Lynn
I've been watching and if I lived there, I would of evacuated 3-4 days ago, no matter what anyone said.. I'd rather be alive than risking my life or others trying to save mine
Like · Reply · 32 · 9 hrs
Carol Summers Kolber ·
Works at Retired
Evacuating such a huge population would no doubt have been a monumental task. Since the weather warnings were far enough in advance of the disaster, I wonder why people just didn't move out on their own to safer areas?
Like · Reply · 5 · 10 hrs
Marilyn Davis ·
I know some couldn't. But a lot could have left on their own
Reply · 2 · 8 hrs
Ronnie Cox ·
Quit waiting on some "government official" to tell you something is dangerous! Use your head for something besides a hat rack.
Like · Reply · 38 · 10 hrs
Lynn Warren
Reply · 7 hrs
Jules Arnold ·
If the radio weather people tell me there is a bad storm coming I listen and get prepared.... I don't need the demonRat mayor telling me anything...
Reply · 2 · 7 hrs
Charlie Bailey ·
Works at Retired
When I lived in south Texas seems as they always had an evacuation plan for hurricanes. Did live through a few from the 60’s till I moved in the early 90's.
Ralph Green ·
Looks to me that your wonderful Mayor flat out screwed the goose!!! Yes, preplanning IS the operative word here...And they DIDN'T DO THE PLANNING!!! DUH!
Like · Reply · 5 · 10 hrs
Deborah Day Schwaab ·
I've been watching the coverage on all the major news channels and all I've seen is neighbor helping neighbor. Praise to all the people affected helping each other out.
Like · Reply · 14 · 10 hrs
Deborah Day Schwaab ·
Could they have positioned shelters near low lying areas?
Like · Reply · 1 · 10 hrs
Josie Klapper ·
no. Houston IS a low lying area. It's not below sea level like NO is, but it is in the drainage path for a good swath of Central to SE Texas. And there is a reason it's the Bayou City Water table is measured in inches. Basically "they" should have done an volentary evacuation for anyone that flooded in Alison. This is basically Alison Redux... (Yeah, I'm in the Houston area and this is my 3rd Hurricain, 4th major storm if you count good old Alison...)
Reply · 2 · 9 hrs
Deborah Day Schwaab ·
My thoughts are with you!
Reply · 9 hrs
Stephanie Morris
While I hate this disgrace of a mayor, he's right. WHERE IS SHEILA JACKSON LEE and all our local politicians??
Like · Reply · 5 · 10 hrs
Cheryl Rickards ·
It's not as though they didn't have advance notice. It does appear that the planning the Mayor talks about could have been done.
Like · Reply · 8 · 10 hrs
Amy James
That's a lot of people to evacuate out of a city on such short notice..I think one of the major factors was probably people being trapped on those freeways that are now underwater..tough call either way..
Reply · 3 · 10 hrs
Lea Mattson
The storm didn't upgrade to a cat4 until less than 18 hours from impact. There is no way they could have evacuated that many people out of Houston in a safe manner without putting them in harm's way. There are 5 confirmed deaths as of right now and this was a tremendously impactful storm. Had they ordered evacuations, there would have been a much higher body count due to cars stranded on the roads.
Reply · 5 · 9 hrs
Krissy Magruder Greer
They had days to do it
And they should have a plan already for emergency situations like this that require evacuation. The mayor put those people in harms way by telling them to ignore the governors notice to evacuate.
The mayor is a Typical democrat. They don't care about people
Reply · 2 hrs

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