September 2017

Historic Hurricane Hits Texas

Flooding in Houston from Hurricane HarveyFlooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey

Flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey
People in Houston evacuated their homes after many areas of their city were flooded from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017.

Have you ever been in a really bad thunderstorm, when the rain comes down in sheets like a waterfall? Imagine 130 mile-per-hour winds blowing at the same time and you might get an idea of what conditions were like during Hurricane Harvey. The Category 4 hurricane hit southeastern Texas, including the city of Houston, on August 25.

In general, hurricanes move at about 12 miles-per-hour. However, Hurricane Harvey was an unusually slow-moving storm, stalling over Texas and pouring down massive amounts of rain for several days. Some areas received as much as 52 inches of rain. That’s more than 4 feet! In total, Hurricane Harvey dumped about 27 trillion gallons of rain on Texas. This amount of water would fill the U.S. Capitol building more than 2 million times.

All of this rainfall created catastrophic flooding in Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and other nearby communities. More than 40 inches of rain fell in an area the size of Delaware, creating the worst flood in U.S. history. As waters began to quickly rise, many residents became trapped. As the storm raged on, first responders were quickly overwhelmed with calls for help.

Fortunately, a small army of volunteers from nearby communities and states showed up with their boats, jet skis, and high-wheel vehicles. They patrolled flooded streets, helping local first responders and the U.S. Coast Guard rescue people from the roofs of flooded homes and cars.

By the time the rains began to slow on August 29, more than 8,000 people in Houston alone had been rescued. In addition, more than 30,000 people had been displaced from their homes, being housed at more than 230 temporary shelters. As of September 3, there were 45 deaths from Hurricane Harvey.

For the parts of Texas affected by the storm, experts predict that the recovery will be slow and costly. President Donald Trump spoke positively about the recovery efforts at a news conference: “We see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend and stranger helping stranger. We are one American family. We hurt together, we struggle together and believe me, we endure together.”

Image credit: ©Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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