Around 9:45pm last Friday, Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. Ranging at a Category 4, Harvey brought 130 mile per hour winds, torrents of rain, and devastating floods to land. As Harvey moved throughout coastal Texas, from Corpus Christi to Houston, and even inland from Austin to San Antonio, it became the first major hurricane to touch US land in over a decade.
So far, reports on Harvey’s effect in Texas are showing five persons dead, more than a dozen injured, and the United States’ fourth-largest city, Houston, inundated. Other cities in Harvey’s path encouraged evacuation, but Houston did not. Residents found themselves trapped, forced to climb to rooftops as they anticipated rescue from the Coast Guard, and sending pleas out through social media. Tens of thousands of Texans spent the weekend in shelters; many expressed fears about returning home and seeing the destruction that awaits them.
But, in spite of the high winds and classification of a Category 4 storm, the largest cause of Harvey’s destruction is due to the amount of moisture being deposited. At four inches of water per hour, Harvey is promising to land a spot in natural disaster history. The largest amount of rainfall Texans experienced was back in 2001, when Tropical Storm Allison dropped 40 inches of rain over the state. By the time Harvey finally passes, forecasters are predicting some areas to have nearly 50 inches of rain. In fact, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia, says that Harvey “could go down as the worst flood disaster in US history.”
With rains and subsequent floods continuing to move along the coast, fears are rising as well. Harvey is now headed towards Louisiana as a tropical storm, where officials and citizens alike are concerned about the effect Harvey will have on the city of New Orleans. Areas of New Orleans are still recovering from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. However, although Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, declared of a state of emergency this morning, New Orleans Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, tells reporters he will not be initiating any evacuation plans. Instead, Landrieu remains confident in chief meteorologist, Ken Graham’s conjecture that the drainage system will be able to handle the predicted 10 inches of rain Harvey will bring to the city. Although schools and public buildings will be expected to open for the week of August 28th, the city did put out a list of intersections and roads to avoid during the rain falls. Additionally, officials are urging residents to get sandbags, sign up for emergency alerts, and utilize weather apps that show where flooding is occurring.
While New Orleans seems confident in their ability to handle Hurricane Harvey, Texas is definitely in need of aid, and SXU students can help. Houston mayor, Sylvester Turner, has created the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. To donate, visit their website http://ghcf.org/. Other organizations like The Red Cross or the Salvation Army are accepting donations through their websites www.redcross.org and www.helpsalvationarmy.org, and over the phone; you can text HARVEY to 90999, which will donate $10, or STORM to 51555. Additionally, GoFundMe is listing a multitude of campaigns already out there looking to help fund Harvey relief. You can even start your own campaign.
As Harvey continues to rage across the Gulf Coast, every donation counts. For more information on Harvey, the National Weather Service is updating their site during the storm at http://www.weather.gov/akq/Harvey .