Trump to visit deluged Texas to survey
response to Storm Harvey
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[August 29, 2017]
By Erwin Seba and Mica Rosenberg
HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald
Trump planned to visit Texas on Tuesday to survey the response to
devastating Tropical Storm Harvey, the first major natural disaster of
his White House tenure.
The slow-moving storm has brought catastrophic flooding to Texas, killed
at least nine people, led to mass evacuations and paralyzed Houston, the
fourth most-populous U.S. city.
It had also roiled energy markets and wrought damage estimated to be in
the billions of dollars, with rebuilding likely to last beyond Trump's
current four-year term in office.
“My administration is coordinating closely with state and local
authorities in Texas and Louisiana to save lives, and we thank our first
responders and all of those involved in their efforts,” Trump told
reporters at the White House on Monday.
Trump was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday morning in Corpus Christi, near
where Harvey came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to
strike Texas in more than 50 years. The president will later go to the
Texas capital Austin to meet state officials, receive briefings and tour
the emergency operation center, the White House said.
Forecasters could only draw on a few comparisons to the storm, recalling
Hurricane Katrina, which lay waste to New Orleans and killed 1,800
people in 2005.
The administration of then-President George W. Bush drew accusations
that his response was slow and inadequate - criticism that dealt a
serious blow to his presidency.
Flood damage in Texas from Hurricane Harvey may equal that from Katrina,
one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, an insurance
research group said on Sunday.
In Texas, thousands of National Guard troops, police officers, rescue
workers and civilians raced in helicopters, boats and high-water trucks
to rescue the thousands stranded in the flooding, which transformed
streets into rivers and caused chest-high water build-ups in scores of
In Cypress, Texas, Kayla Harvey, 26, was monitoring Facebook, finding
where people were stuck and organizing friends with boats to go out and
help. "This is just what we do for our community. We don't wait for
someone to come and help we just go out and do it," she said.
Before Harvey, the last Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Texas
was Carla in 1961. It packed high winds and torrential rains that
destroyed about 1,900 homes and nearly 1,000 businesses, the National
Weather Service said.
RUNWAYS TURNED INTO LAKES
Among the most recent deaths from Harvey was a man who drowned on Monday
night while trying to swim across flooded Houston-area roads, the
Houston Chronicle quoted the Montgomery County Constable's Office as
The storm center was in the Gulf of Mexico, about 115 miles southeast of
Houston on Monday morning and was likely to remain just off the coast of
Texas through Tuesday night before moving inland over the northwestern
Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane
The NHC said Harvey was not expected to further intensify before its
center crosses the coast again within 36 hours or so.
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Residents wait to be rescued from the flood waters of Tropical Storm
Harvey in Beaumont Place, Texas, U.S., on August 28, 2017.
Since coming ashore, Harvey has virtually stalled along the Texas
coast, picking up warm water from the Gulf of Mexico and dumping
torrential rain from San Antonio to Louisiana.
The Houston metro area has suffered some of the worst precipitation
with certain areas expected to receive more than 50 inches (127 cm)
of rain in a week, more than it typically receives for a year.
Harvey was expected to produce another 7 to 13 inches of rain
through Thursday over parts of the upper Texas coast into
southwestern Louisiana, the National Weather Service said.
"These stationary bands of tropical rain are very hard to time, very
hard to place and are very unpredictable," said Alek Krautmann, a
weather service meteorologist in Louisiana.
Schools and office buildings were closed throughout the Houston
metropolitan area, where 6.8 million people live.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency director, Brock Long,
estimated that 30,000 people would eventually be housed temporarily
Houston and Dallas have set up shelters in convention centers and
Austin was preparing to house as many as 7,000 evacuees.
Hundreds of Houston-area roads were blocked by high water. The
city's two main airports were shut as the floods turned runways into
ponds and more than a quarter million customers were without power
as of Tuesday morning.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to half of U.S. refining capacity. The
reduction in supply led gasoline futures to hit their highest level
in two years this week as Harvey knocked out about 13 percent of
total U.S. refining capacity, based on company reports and Reuters
The floods could destroy as much as $20 billion in insured property,
making the storm one of the costliest in history for U.S. insurers,
Wall Street analysts say.
The Brazos River, one of the longest in the country, was forecast to
crest at record highs well above flood levels on Tuesday about 30
miles (49 km) southwest of Houston, prompting authorities in Fort
Bend County to order the evacuation of about 50,000 people.
(Additional reporting by Peter Henderson, Mica Rosenberg, Erwin
Seba, Nick Oxford and Ruthy Munoz in Houston, Andy Sullivan in
Rockport, Texas, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Steve Holland and Jeff
Mason in Washington and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Jon
Herskovitz and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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