Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Houston Mayor Imposes Curfew to Ensure Public Safety Amid Harvey Flooding

August 29,2017
This article is no longer being updated. Follow the latest news here.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner imposed a curfew on the city Tuesday in an effort to ensure public safety.
The order extends from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

Turner says it is being enacted to prevent property crimes at evacuated homes, reports. He added he did not want flood victims to be concerned about break-ins while they are displaced.
"Don't victimize our victims. We will come after you," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a statement obtained by
Workers at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, had to be evacuated Tuesday after flooding brought on by Harvey submerged backup generators and created the risk of a fire or chemical explosion.
Officials with Arkema say the situation at the facility has become serious, according to a release. It has been closed since Friday, but a small crew of 11 had been riding out the storm over the past few days. The plant has been without electricity since Sunday.
The company manufactures organic peroxides that need to be stored at low temperatures, which has been a challenge due to the lack of power, states the release. The products have been moved to diesel-powered refrigerated containers that are being monitored by officials.
A Houston police officer who drowned while on his way to work has been confirmed as the latest victim of Harvey.  Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner identified the fallen officer as 60-year-old Sergeant Steve Perez.
(MORE: Why Houston Didn't Order Evacuations)
Perez, who had been with the department for more than 30 years, was in his patrol car Sunday morning when he got trapped in high water at I-45 and the Hardy Toll Road, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The photo above shows Sergeant Steve Perez of the Houston Police Department, who died when his patrol car became trapped in floodwaters brought on by Harvey.
(Houston Police Department)

"Sometimes you find a way to make it happen, or you die in trying," Turner told the Chronicle. "Sgt. Perez lost his life because he tried to make it happen, he tried to get at his post...that's the ultimate sacrifice."

Two flood control reservoirs have overtopped their banks in Houston, sending floodwaters over spillways, despite Army Corps of Engineers officials releasing water from both.  Elsewhere in the city, a bridge over Greens Bayou has collapsed near the Cloverleaf area, according to emergency management officials.
Jeff Lindner, with the Harris County Flood Control District, said Tuesday that he's certain that more homes and streets will flood as a result of the reservoirs filling. Lindner says the county is trying to determine where the water will go, specifically from the north end of the Addicks reservoir, but that some homes will be inundated for up to a month.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a press conference Tuesday that there would be uncontrolled releases from Addicks for at least that long.
Brazoria County emergency management officials are reporting that the Brazos levee near Columbia Lakes has breached. Flash flooding is already occurring, and all residents have been urged to evacuate now.
The reservoir flooding is just adding to the misery in Houston, where more than 6,000 people have been rescued since flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey began, officials said Tuesday.
Mayor Sylvester Turner told The Associated Press Tuesday that police had rescued more than 3,000, and the Coast Guard said it also had rescued more than 3,000 by boat and air. Coast Guard officials said they were more than 1,000 calls per hour.
Despite thousands of rescues, city officials worry that the death toll could jump dramatically.
"We know in these kind of events that, sadly, the death toll goes up historically," Houston police Chief Art Acevedo told The Associated Press. "I'm really worried about how many bodies we're going to find."
The storm has contributed to at least nine deaths so far.
Alexander Kwoksum Sung, 64, drowned at his workplace in South Houston no Sunday. A 33-year-old man drove around a barricade and drowned in Montgomery County on Tuesday. A woman died in in the same county Monday after a tree collapsed on top of her home while she slept, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.
In Harris County, the medical examiner's office confirmed a woman was killed in flooding Saturday, according to AP. She appeared to have exited her vehicle in high water and was found 30 yards away by neighbors. The Houston Fire Department said a man died in floodwaters overnight Saturday into Sunday.  Two people reportedly died in Galveston County Sunday.
A Rockport man was killed when his house caught fire at the height of the storm, according to media reports.
Friendswood Police spokeswoman Lisa Price said Tuesday that a boater helping rescue people from Harvey floodwaters discovered a deceased man, AP reports. Authorities are not yet sure how the man died and have not yet confirmed his identity.
One Houston woman said Monday that she presumes six members of a family, including four of her grandchildren, died after their van sank into Greens Bayou in East Houston.
Virginia Saldivar told The Associated Press her brother-in-law was driving the van Sunday when a strong current took the vehicle over a bridge and into the bayou. The driver was able to get out and urged the children to escape through the back door, Saldivar said, but they could not.
"I'm just hoping we find the bodies," Saldivar said.

Tuesday officials in Dallas opened the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center Tuesday as a mega shelter for 5,000 Hurricane Harvey evacuees, reports. Mayor Mike Rawlings says the center will operate as a "mini city," with a pharmacy area provided by Walmart and amenities such as phone charging stations.
They [evacuees] can’t get out of town… all the major arteries going in and out are flooding," Rawlings said in a statement obtained by CBS DFW. "We want them to be safe. They’re safe in that convention center. It will be better when they can get up here and there will be more space and we can help them.”
Tuesday Turner announced that the Toyota Center is open as an additional shelter for evacuees. The facility was opened to alleviate crowding at the George R. Brown Convention Center, which exceeded its expected capacity of 5,000. 
American Red Cross spokesman Lloyd Ziel told AP that 9,000 evacuees have entered the George R. Brown Convention Center as of Monday and more are still arriving. Unless volunteers can find more cots, some people will have to sleep in chairs or on the floor. The Red Cross said on Tuesday that there are more than 17,000 people in Texas seeking refuge in shelters.
Houston officials will open two or three more mega-shelters to accommodate people who continue to arrive at the overflowing George R. Brown Convention Center seeking refuge from Harvey’s record-breaking flooding, Mayor Sylvester Turner told the AP Tuesday.
(MORE: President Trump Unleashes Harvey Tweet Storm)
"We are not turning anyone away," Turner said. "But it does mean we need to expand our capabilities and our capacity," Turner said. "Relief is coming."
City officials have made a formal request with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for more supplies, including cots and food, for additional 10,000 people, which he hopes arrive no later than Wednesday, the mayor said.
The military's role in Harvey rescue and recovery efforts has been limited by weather and flooding but could soon expand by tenfold or more, a senior National Guard officer said Tuesday.
Air Force Maj. Gen. James Witham told reporters there currently are about 3,500 National Guard troops involved, including about 3,000 from the Texas National Guard. He estimated that the Texas guard number could rise to 8,000 to 10,000 in coming days, possibly joined by 20,000 to 30,000 from other states.
Officials announced mandatory evacuations Monday afternoon for the entire town of Dickinson, Texas – a town of 20,000 located 30 miles southeast of Houston.
Swollen waterways are prompting evacuations in surrounding areas. New mandatory and voluntary evacuations were ordered Monday morning in Fort Bend County, Texas, southwest of downtown Houston, over fears and expectations that water levels in the Brazos River will reach record levels, threatening to overtop local levees and inundate homes and businesses.
"A 59-foot river level threatens to overtop many of the levees in our area," said Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert. "If you are in a mandatory evacuation zone, please leave. If you do not, you may be in danger and we may not be able to help."
More evacuations could come with record-breaking flooding bursting the banks of waterways further downstream. Five waterways have already crested to their highest levels ever, according to senior meteorologist Jon Erdman, and five more, including the Brazos, are forecast to crest above their all-time record.
North of Houston, mandatory evacuations were also ordered in the town of Conroe, according to the Courier. The evacuations were for the McDade Estates community, some 200 homes along the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, the report added.
Authorities feared flooding in the community was imminent because of a record rate of release from Lake Conroe, the Courier also said.
"The heaviest rain early Monday morning extended from near Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas, into far southwestern Louisiana, with radar rain rates estimated over 4 inches per hour over in some spots," said Erdman. "Rain is still falling over parts of the Houston metro area, mainly in Fort Bend and southern Harris Counties, but is much less intense than we saw during the weekend."
In a Monday morning press conference, FEMA Administrator William "Brock" Long said more than 30,000 people will be placed into shelters and at least 450,000 will need disaster assistance in the wake of the catastrophe.
"This is a landmark event for Texas," Long told reporters. "Texas has never seen an event like this."

Harris County Flood Control issued a mandatory evacuation for residents in the Inverness Forest Subdivision Monday, the National Weather Service reports (NWS).
The Northgate Subdivision was also placed under mandatory evacuation, reports. The orders were issued due to high and rising water levels in Cypress Creek.

Wind and Rain Forecast
Dr. Greg Postel, hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel, said the flooding in the Houston area "could be the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history." Gov. Abbott, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said: "We're measuring rain these days not in inches but in feet."
Monday President Donald Trump said the recovery from the storm would be "a long and difficult road," but added that he believes Congress will act quickly to provide disaster relief funding to the impacted areas, CNN reports.

The runway at Houston's Hobby Airport was completely flooded Sunday, according to a tweet from the airport. Officials closed the airport Sunday morning due to the storm, and it will remain closed until at least Wednesday. The George Bush Intercontinental Airport is also closed until further notice.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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