Mom dies when she and daughter are swept away; 13,000+ Harvey rescues reported
HOUSTON (AP) – The Latest on Tropical Storm Harvey (all times local):
UPDATE: Federal and local agencies say they have rescued more than 13,000 people from Harvey in Houston and surrounding areas.
Beaumont police say a woman has died after she and her young daughter were swept into a rain-swollen drainage canal while trying to escape their stalled vehicle.
A police statement said the woman pulled her vehicle into a theater parking lot about 3:35 p.m. Tuesday, where it became stalled by high water. The woman then took her daughter, exited the car and was swept about a half-mile away.
Two Beaumont police officers and two fire-rescue divers in a rubber boat spotted the mother floating with the child, who was holding onto her mother. Officers pulled the child and the mother into the boat. The child was responsive but suffering from hypothermia; the mother was unresponsive and efforts to revive her failed. The child is hospitalized in stable condition.
Authorities and family members have so far reported more than a dozen deaths from Harvey.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has amended his curfew order to run from midnight to 5 a.m., instead of beginning at 10 p.m.
Turner announced the change on Twitter Tuesday evening, about an hour after initially imposing the curfew.
Police Chief Art Acevedo said at an earlier news conference that curfew violators will be stopped, questioned, searched and arrested.
There have been scattered reports of looting during the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says that the Toyota Center – home of the NBA’s Rockets – has been opened as a shelter for people displaced by flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey.
Turner announced during a news conference Tuesday evening that the downtown basketball arena will be used to help reduce overflow at the nearby George R. Brown Convention Center, which is now sheltering 10,000 people. Officials had initially planned to have 5,000 individuals at the convention center.
Turner says people will still have to go to the convention center first before going into the Toyota Center.
Turner thanked Rockets owner Les Alexander for letting the city use the basketball arena as a shelter and also thanked him for his donation of $10 million for Harvey relief efforts.
Turner says because Houston police have been spread thin due to ongoing water rescues and other efforts, 50 Texas National Guard members will be stationed at the convention center to provide security.
Officials say they have evacuated homes northeast of Houston after a chemical company said there is a risk of an explosion at its flooded plant.
The Harris County Fire Marshal’s office said in a tweet Tuesday that homes within 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) of the Arkema plant in Crosby have been evacuated out of precaution.
Arkema says in a news release that it manufactures organic peroxides in Crosby, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston. The company says the chemical compounds must be stored at low temperatures, but it lost refrigerated storage after power went out and backup generators were inundated.
Arkema said it shut down the Crosby site before Harvey made landfall last week, but a crew of 11 had been kept onsite. That group was removed Tuesday.
Harris County has confirmed the storm-related death of 64-year-old Alexander Kwoksum Sung, who drowned at a clock repair business Sunday in Houston. He was found in more than a foot of debris on Monday.
Authorities and family members have so far reported more than 10 deaths from Harvey.
Authorities at a small city near Houston say a boater who was helping rescue people from the Harvey floodwaters has located a deceased man.
Friendswood Police spokeswoman Lisa Price said Tuesday authorities are not exactly sure how the man died and they haven’t been able to confirm his identity.
Price says officers are still on the scene and the body has been taken to a funeral home.
Authorities earlier had confirmed five deaths that are believed to be related to Harvey. Another six people are missing and presumed dead after a van fell into a bayou.
One of the nation’s busiest trauma centers has abandoned evacuation plans and will discharge patients more quickly as it prepares for an expected surge of new patients with injuries related to Harvey.
Spokesman Bryan McLeod said Tuesday that Ben Taub Hospital’s case management workers will help patients who “no longer require hospitalization” get back home or to shelters if their homes are flooded or inaccessible.
McLeod said “we’re going to need those beds once the next wave comes.”
Ben Taub is Houston’s main public hospital of last resort, and many patients are poor and uninsured.
Building repairs continue on a burst sewage pipe and leaks that damaged the basement of the hospital’s main building and affected pharmacy, food service and other key operations.
McLeod said the hospital has enough food to last until Thursday, when all hospital staff and administrators will be expected back at work.
Authorities say an 83-year-old woman has died after her vehicle was caught in floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Walker County, north of Houston.
Officials with the Texas Department of Public safety say a state trooper out checking the road conditions early Tuesday morning came across Ola Mae Crooks’ vehicle. Sgt. Richard Standifer with the Texas Department of Public Safety tells The Associated Press that the trooper contacted the swift water rescue team, which recovered the body.
Sgt. Steven McNeil with the Texas Department of Public Safety tells the Huntsville Item newspaper that a preliminary investigation indicates Crooks drowned when her car was swept off a farm-to-market road at the San Jacinto River near her home. McNeil says it appears Crooks was trying to cross the bridge and the swift water carried her vehicle off the road and into the flood waters.
Hundreds of people are waiting in line at the George R. Brown Convention Center to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster assistance.
Many evacuees arrived with what was in their pockets and nothing else.
John Boyce lived in a west Houston apartment and had to be pulled out by boat. He was initially taken to a local hospital and was given paper scrubs to wear before being taken to the convention center, because his clothes were wet and soaked in sewage.
His two possessions are a cell phone and a wallet. He dried the cards inside the wallet on a piece of cardboard, and his cellphone worked after he held the battery under a bathroom hair dryer.
He took his first shower Tuesday in a mobile unit brought in by the Red Cross.
FEMA is expected to provide assistance to people left homeless in Harvey.
The 49-year-old Boyce hopes he can get enough money to travel to Alaska and join his daughter and grandchild. He says, “I have nothing to go back to here.”
For the drenched Houston region, an end to the rain and a sunny day are almost in sight. But that’s only because meteorologists forecast Harvey to come inland Wednesday, then slog through Louisiana and take its downpours north. Arkansas, Tennessee, parts of Missouri and southern Illinois are on alert for Harvey flooding in a couple days.
Harvey is forecast to return inland around the Texas-Louisiana line and close to Beaumont, Texas, early Wednesday morning or late Tuesday night with 45 mph (72 kph) winds and heavy rains, spending much of Wednesday in Louisiana. Along the Gulf Coast, rain is expected to continue Wednesday but taper off.
Dennis Feltgen, National Hurricane Center spokesman says, “Texas is going to get a chance to finally dry out as this system pulls out.”
But Feltgen cautioned that this doesn’t mean Harvey is ending.
Flash flood watches are already posted for parts of Tennessee, southern Illinois and southeast Missouri.
Those areas and Arkansas could get six or seven inches of rain, but it won’t be anything like what southeast Texas got.
The National Weather Service in Houston forecasts less of an inch for the city on Wednesday, and only a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms for Thursday. And then for Friday it says, “mostly sunny.”
In far North Dallas, hundreds of volunteers are handling a steady stream of cars, trucks and trailers loaded with water, diapers and other goods for hurricane relief.
The drop-off point announced by the city of Dallas is managed by the nonprofit Trusted World, which also has other drop off points in office buildings and other public locations.
The volunteers say they have seen thousands of vehicles loaded Tuesday with items to donate for hurricane relief. The volume of vehicles loaded with items to donate extended out onto and down the northbound frontage road of the Dallas North Tollway. One 34-foot trailer belonging to a cabinet maker was filled with bottled water and other items. The drop-off point was open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Harvey has gained a bit of strength but stayed a tropical storm. Its winds increased from 45 mph (72 kph) to 50 mph (80 kph).
But the National Hurricane Center says that reading Tuesday afternoon may be unusual because it was from a low flying hurricane hunter airplane.
Forecasters say heavy rains are continuing to spread over southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana.
The rains in Cedar Bayou, near Mont Belvieu, Texas, reached 51.88 inches (132 centimeters) as of 3:30 p.m. CDT. That’s a record for both Texas and the continental United States but it doesn’t quite pass the 52 inches (133 centimeters) from tropical cyclone Hiki in Kauai, Hawaii, in 1950 (before Hawaii became a state).
An official says that a levee protecting a subdivision of homes in a county south of Houston has been fortified after being breached but warns the threat is far from over.
Brazoria County spokeswoman Sharon Trower said Tuesday afternoon that the levee had been fortified. Earlier in the day the county had posted on Twitter: “NOTICE: The levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached!! GET OUT NOW!!”
She says that some water did get through but it wasn’t substantial. She warns that authorities don’t know how long the fortification will hold. She also notes the breach happened due to rainwater but that the nearby Brazos River continues to spill out of its banks.
Trower says that the mandatory evacuation ordered Sunday morning still stands and notes that most of the residents in the area have left.
Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta has said that there are hundreds of homes in the tree-lined subdivision situated around a golf course.
Federal regulators say dozens of offshore oil-and-gas platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to dump heavy rainfall on the region.
The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a statement Tuesday that workers were evacuated from 102 production platforms, which is nearly 14 percent of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf.
Five of the 10 drilling rigs currently operating in the Gulf also had been evacuated as of noon Tuesday. The bureau estimated that approximately 19 percent of the Gulf’s oil and natural gas production was “shut-in,” or temporarily halted, as of midday Tuesday. Offshore facilities will be inspected once the storm has passed.
The Texas Gulf is a key area for U.S. oil refineries and oil and gas production.
Facebook and Google are matching donations to people affected by Hurricane Harvey, the tech giants announced on Tuesday. Facebook says it will match every dollar raised through its platform, up to $1 million, for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund. The money will support local recovery and rebuilding efforts. U.S. Facebook users are getting a message at the top of their news feed on how to donate.
Google says it is matching $1 million in donations to the American Red Cross. To donate, go to https://www.google.org/harvey-relief/ . The company also matched donations from employees, and said Tuesday it donated $750,000 between its nonprofit arm, Google.org, and employee contributions to organizations such as the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and Save the Children.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed that police Sgt. Steve Perez has died after he became trapped in his patrol car as he was driving to work.
The Houston Chronicle has reported that the 30-year officer was heading to work Sunday when he became trapped in high water on Interstate 45 in north Harris County and then couldn’t get himself out of his car.
NAACP interim President Derrick Johnson says his organization will carefully monitor government assistance in Houston and other areas to ensure minority neighborhoods get adequate resources following Harvey’s destruction on the Gulf Coast.
Johnson says the NAACP’s goal will be “to ensure that resources directed from the federal government don’t skip neighborhoods.”
Johnson told the National Press Club Tuesday that he met with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier in the day. He says the NAACP has a responsibility to make sure “equity is at the table” during recovery efforts, noting that minority neighborhoods suffered disproportionately during Hurricane Katrina.
Johnson is the former president of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. He says Katrina shows “it is critically important for the association to ensure that the recovery is equitable.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards says Louisiana is offering to shelter storm victims from Texas while the state also helps its own residents who were rescued from Harvey’s floodwaters overnight.
Edwards said at a news conference Tuesday in Baton Rouge that he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept the offer and transport flood victims to Louisiana shelters.
Approximately 500 people were evacuated Monday night and early Tuesday from flooded neighborhoods in southwest Louisiana. Edwards says about 200 of them spent the night in area shelters.
Edwards says more than 600 members of the Louisiana National Guard are on storm-related duty. Many are assisting with rescue efforts.
Edwards says Tropical Storm Harvey was strengthening slightly after moving back into the Gulf of Mexico but wasn’t expected to become a hurricane again before its predicted Wednesday landfall in Louisiana.
...[READ MORE] Source: WNCN Durham County News