Hurricane Harvey has shocked everyone by bringing record-breaking weather, rainfall and flooding to various parts of Texas. Texas officials have only confirmed three deaths so far as the fourth day of the storm continues; there have been various reports of up to 10 deaths.
Thousands have been rescued, with even the self-proclaimed Cajun Navy from Louisiana and other rescue groups from surrounding areas volunteering their boats, resources and time to support and save their neighbors in Texas.
Internet pressure finally seems to have convinced multi-millionaire pastor Joel Osteen to open the doors of his mega-church to those displaced by the storm, as well.
Houston’s mayor Tuesday confirmed that a Houston police officer has died due to his work with the rescue efforts in the Houston area.
14 sites throughout Houston had confirmed at least 40 inches of flood water with “a weather station southeast of Houston report[ing] 49.32 inches of rain as of Tuesday morning,” with rain continuing and dams breaking, adding to the potential flooding dangers. The effects of climate change have exacerbated the storm and elevated it to record-breaking levels.
Sgt. Steve Perez, 30, was driving through affected areas Sunday on his way to work when he encountered high waters on I-45 in Harris County. He reportedly was unable to get himself out of his car before flood waters overwhelmed his vehicle, causing him to drown.
The unprecedented storm has taken everyone by surprise, even with the preparation that took place ahead of land-fall. In Houston, the George R. Brown Convention Center “already held more than 9,000 people, almost twice the number officials originally planed to house there,” as of Tuesday afternoon. Estimates place the number of people seeking refuge throughout Texas at close to 20,000. Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards has offered to shelter some Texans should the state’s officials decide to accept that offer.
Donald Trump flew to Texas Tuesday after live-tweeting the storm, commenting on its historic size and power. He also used the cover of the media surrounding the storm to pardon controversial Sheriff Joe Apraio who was convicted of defying a federal court and continuing his practices of racially profiling people of color in Arizona and to officially sign a ban of transgender people from the military. An early Trump supporter, Apraio has been accused of violating human rights’ standards as well by housing people in a “tent city” jail and enacting particularly cruel practices.
Melania Trump accompanied her husband and drew ire from internet commenters for wearing five-inch stilettos to the affected storm areas. She was accused of being out of touch in commentary reminiscent of last week’s controversial government-wife, Louise Linton, who seemed to brag about taking a “day trip” aboard an Air Force jet with her Treasury secretary husband, Steve Mnunchin. Linton accused those who criticized her of being out-of-touch in one of the biggest moments of irony this year.
Rainfall was estimated at approximately half an inch per hour still on Tuesday, and up to two inches per hour in some areas in the east. While it is predicted to lose its strength by Wednesday, it is also heading toward Mississippi and New Orleans, causing some to fear that the areas affected by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina could be in danger once more. Tuesday marks the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in Plaquemines Parish.