(TriceEdneyWire.com) – At publication deadline this week, more than 9,000 people (an overflow of evacuees) had packed into the Houston Convention Center fleeing the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Additional people on higher ground south of Houston had been urged to leave their homes immediately due to the possibility of broken levees. More than 17,000 were in shelters across the state. And more than 30,000 people were expected to seek shelter before it’s all over.
Even with a 49” record rainfall for the U. S., Texas forecasts predicted even more heavy rain for the remainder of this week as the Hurricane appeared to boomerang, hitting the city for a second time. Parts of Louisiana are also under water and expected to get worse as well.
“Since the shelter opened early Sunday morning, I’ve seen throngs of survivors coming in, people who have barely the clothes on their backs, soak and wet, their belongings in their hands,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said in a live CNN interview Tuesday. “But they’re resilient, they have faith, they’re looking for a future. And they believe that they’re going to get help. That’s an important message for those who now have nothing. We now have an obligation to commit to them that they will have a future and that the resources will come.”
Lee said after conversations with rescue workers, volunteers and others in charge of the rescues, the key issue was to continue focusing on getting people to safety. She said she believed that there are “certain pockets in this community, including Beltway 8, Tidwell and Northside where we need to continue to rescue people.”
Lee and U.S. Rep. Al Green agreed that thousands of additional people could still be awaiting rescue at that time on Tuesday morning. Congresswoman Lee estimated that the damages and rebuilding after the Hurricane would surpass $150 billion across Texas.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flew into Corpus Christi and then to Austin on Tuesday. In Corpus Christi, they received a briefing from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The White House says the president did not fly closer to the worst disaster areas in Houston because he didn’t want to distract from rescue efforts.
Gov. Abbott thanked Trump for the advance preparations that had been going on for 10 days, saying “Texas has been tested. But our response to this challenge has been made much more effective because of the very effective way that the” Trump Administration has responded.
“This was of epic proportion. No one has ever seen anything like this,” Trump said in response to the governor’s remarks. “We won’t say congratulations. We don’t want to do that. We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished.”
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Administrator Brock Long referred to Hurricane Katrina, the disastrous Hurricane that killed nearly 2,000 people in New Orleans around the same week in August in 2005. In that situation, thousands died mainly due to old levees that failed to hold back New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain after the storm.
“This is not the Superdome,” said Long, referring to the New Orleans stadium where thousands gathered after Katrina and waiting for days before FEMA responded. Then President George W. Bush was strongly criticized for flying over New Orleans in a helicopter.
Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation, making it difficult for first responders to know where all the people needed help. Word went out for those needing to be rescued to hang large towels from their window.
Searches for family, loved ones and associates and co-workers continued throughout the week. Many depended on media to get the word out about missing loved ones.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association blasted an alert to their editors and publishers showing one of their leading publishers, former NNPA Foundation Chairwoman Sonny Messiah-Jiles of the Houston Defender, being rescued by boat along with her family.
Many are praying because thousands of others are not as fortunate. At this writing, the death count was 19 people, but authorities expect that will rise as recovery efforts begin once the water has receded.
The stories of heroism and struggles are harrowing as the elderly, sick and families with children desperately seek safety.
One family of six perished when the van they were in sank as they tried to flee the waters. A police officer was also killed when his car sank in floodwaters on his way to work.
Millions of appeals for prayers and assistance continue across the nation this week as the recovery will no doubt take years.
Tennessee teams deploy to Texas to aide in Hurricane Harvey’s historic aftermath
Swiftwater search and rescue teams representing the State of Tennessee will make their way toward southeast Texas this afternoon to conduct life-saving operations to help local authorities dealing with the unprecedented impact of Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm.
“Tennessee and Texas have a long and storied connection and we are proud to help in any way we can. I am proud of these first responders for stepping up to help those affected during their time of need,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “We know all too well the damage and destruction from floods and other natural disasters, and just as other states supported us in trying times, I know all Tennesseans want to do whatever we can to help Texas in this time of need.”
The eight deploying search and rescue teams, plus one support team, from Tennessee hail from 20 city, county, and state jurisdictions. The teams include a total of 91 personnel with members from the Metro Nashville Fire Department as well.
The Tennessee teams will conduct search, rescue, and recovery missions to aid survivors and animals trapped in swift-water and flooded areas of southeast Texas. The teams are equipped to provide basic life support, medical care, and transportation of survivors and animals to safety.
TEMA is sending two district coordinators to assist with coordination and support of the teams throughout the deployment in southeast Texas. “We are proud Tennessee has so many well-trained search and rescue professionals who selflessly give of themselves to protect lives.” said TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan. “
The state of Texas issued a resource request through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) network Tuesday for 100 swift-water rescues crews to conduct operations in the state for eight days.
TEMA began assembling the seven Tennessee teams for the request Tuesday afternoon working with local emergency management agencies and the coordinator for the Tennessee Association of Fire Chiefs’ Mutual Aid System.
Southeast Texas continues to experience historic flooding, from the record-breaking rainfall of Tropical Storm Harvey. Houston, Texas, has recorded 52 inches of rainfall from Harvey since Saturday. Harvey made landfall for a third time this morning near Cameron, La.
Harvey’s remnants are expected to impact Tennessee through Saturday morning. Heavy rainfall of up four inches or more of may cause flash flooding in some areas of Tennessee into the weekend.
TEMA continues to monitor Harvey’s forecast track and impact through the agency’s 24-hour Watch Point.