Tropical Storm Harvey latest: Homes evacuated due to explosion risk at plant
HOUSTON (AP) _ The Latest on Tropical Storm Harvey: 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.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he is imposing a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in order to ensure public safety.
Turner says at a news conference Tuesday that there is no reason for people to be on the streets during those hours.
Police Chief Art Acevedo said violators will be stopped, questioned, searched and arrested.
There have been scattered reports of looting during the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey.
Authorities at a small city near Houston say a boater who was helping rescue people from the Harvey floodwaters has located a decased 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.
Sg. 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 mp (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 sprad 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 percen 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 Tuesdaythat 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.
Volunteers and donors are lining up outside of the Toyota Center, the downtown arena that’s home to the Houston Rockets, in anticipation that it will open as a shelter for Harvey evacuees.
City officials and Red Cross spokesmen have not confirmed that the arena will open to shelter evacuees. But several people who went to the George R. Brown Convention Center to volunteer or drop off clothes were told that the Toyota Center would open Tuesday afternoon. Around 30 people are waiting outside n arena entrance.
The convention center has nearly doubled its original 5,000-person capacity, and Mayor Sylvester Turner says the city may open multiple major shelters to accommodate the thousands of people still seeking shelter.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pe a says his agency has responded to more than 1,000 calls for service _ including 400 water rescues _ since Harvey inundated much of the city.
Pe a says some fire department crews have been working for three days straight, without a break, and he has implemented procedures to ensure firefighters get the nourishment and rest they need.
Pe a says it has been difficult to get in fresh crews to replace firefighters at some locations because in many areas, “we can’t get in and out of the fire stations” due to flooding. “We can’t deploy them to where we need them with their equipment.”
Pe a says the fire department is managing the resources it has on hand and will rotate in fresh firefighter crews as it is able to do so.
The University of Tampa has fired a visiting assistant professor who suggested in a tweet that Harvey’s destruction is “instant karma” for Texas because it voted Republican.
Sociology professor Kenneth L. Storey posted the tweet and two responses on Sunday before removing the entire thread and his profile photo.
University spokesman Eric Cardenas said in a statement Tuesday that Storey was fired after the school weathered an outpouring of online outrage over the comments.
The Tampa Bay Times reports Storey issued an apology on Monday, writing that he “never meant to wish ill will upon any group.”
In a Facebook post on Monday evening, the university said it “stands in solidarity with the people impacted by Hurricane Harvey.”
Officials said another sociology professor will take over Storey’s classes.
Weather frecasters expect Tropical Storm Harvey to come ashore somewhere near Louisiana’s southwestern corner, following its trip through Texas and return to the Gulf.
National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Erickson said Tuesday that officials project a landfall in Cameron Parish around midday Wednesday. Erickson says another 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain is likely across southwest Louisiana.
Forecasters also project heavy rain running east from New Orleans to Pensacola along the Gulf Coast.
Harvey is expected to bring gusts up to 45 mph (70 kph) in coastal areas and gusts of up to 35 mph (55 kph) in Lake Charles and along the Interstate 10 corridor.
Erickson warns that some coastal rivers won’t be able to drain rains effectively because Harvey’s winds are pushing storm surge into coastal waters, aggravating flooding in places that have already received more than 20 inches of rain.
The Salvation Army says it has provided more than 5,000 meals in the Houston area since Harvey swamped parts of the city.
A Salvation Army statement Tuesday said the charitable group has deployed 42 mobile units that each can provide up to 1,500 meals per day. The group also sent two field kitchens, which can each serve up to 15,000 meals per day, to emergency personnel and flood survivors.
The Salvation Army says multiple staging areas are being set up across Texas to coordinate relief efforts as Harvey impacts more people. Those sites include Houston, San Antonio, Victoria and Arlington.
Lt. Col. Ron Busroe says donations from the public will help provide food, shelter and other valuable resources to people in Houston.
There was no escaping Harvey for members of one Southeast Texas family who found themselves on an extended stay at a New Orleans bed-and-breakfast _ where sandbags are in place to guard against possible Harvey-related floods.
The Auld Sweet Olive Bed and Breakfast is the new, temporary home for Joe Aldape (ahl-DAH’-pey), his sister Cynthia, his son Joseph and other family members from the League City, Texas, area.
They had forged ahead with New Orleans vacation plans as Harvey developed. As of Tuesday, they had no way to return to their flooded homes. Meanwhile, bands of rain from Harvey prompted flash flood watches in New Orleans.
Bed-and-breakfast owner Nancy Gunn said her business took on water during Aug. 5 flash floods, but that it has not flooded so far during Harvey’s rains.
A South Texas ferry system operated by the state is closed to the public until further notice after at least two vessels were damaged during Hurricane Harvey.
A Texas Department of Transportation spokesman said Tuesday that all seven boats in the Port Aransas (uh-RAN’-suhs) Ferry System are being assessed. Rickey Dailey says the ferries must pass Coast Guard inspection before returning to service.
The ferry system provides free transportation connecting travelers between Aransas Pass on the mainland and Port Aransas on Mustang Island. It’s a quarter-mile trip.
The ferries, each capable of transporting at least 20 vehicles, were taken out of service Friday morning as Harvey approached Port Aransas, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi. The area is where Harvey made landfall Friday night.
Dailey says all seven ferries were docked on the Port Aransas side when the storm hit.
Kim Kardashian West and her famous siblings are donating $500,000 to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
A spokeswoman for the reality star says she and her mother and sisters have given $250,000 to the Red Cross and $250,000 to the Salvation Army on Tuesday.
Kardashian West announced the donation on Twitter Tuesday, saying: “Houston we are praying for you.” She used te hashtag (hash)HoustonStrong.
They are among several stars who’ve said publicly they are helping hurricane victims. Kevin Hart on Monday announced a $25,000 donation to the Red Cross for storm victims and called on other celebrities to do the same.
Houston plans to open up at least two more big shelters to house people trying to escape Harvey’s floodwaters.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a news conference Tuesday that more than 9,000 people are now staying at George R. Brown Convention Center _ the largest shelter that has so far been opened. The capacity at the convention center was supposed to be 5,000 people.
Turner says Houston will open up two new big shelters, and possibly a third. He didn’t identify where the shelters would be. More details are expected later Tuesday.
Turner says the number of people at the convention center has continued to grow because the facility is housing not only Houston residents but people from surrounding communities outside the city limits who are in need of shelter.
The mayor of Galveston is asking residents to stay put and off flooded roads as the city anticipates more rain from Harvey.
Mayor Jim Yarbrough says the city of about 50,000 could get up to 4 more inches (10 centimeters) of rain by Wednesday. The mayor says he wants Galveston residents to stay off the roads until conditions improve. Public transportation is not in service in Galveston. The city is 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Houston.
The Port of Galveston remains closed.
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Houston’s top law officer is warning would-be looters amid flooding from Harvey.
Police Chief Art Acevedo said during a news conference Tuesday that armed robbers were apprehnded overnight and a “handful” of looters were also taken into custody. He didn’t say just how many have been arrested on charges related to looting.
Acevedo says he’s spoken with the Harris County district attorney’s office to ensure anyone suspected of looting is prosecuted. He also says he’ll lobby judges and prosecutors to secure the most severe punishment Texas law allows.
State law allows for penalty enhancements for crimes like burglary and robbery that occur during a state of disaster
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South Carolina is sending helicopters, National Guard soldiers, rescue swimmers and others to Texas to help deal with the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Gov. Henry McMaster’s office said Tuesday that McMaster has signed an order to provide help requested by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
The state is sending two South Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Teams consisting of four National Guard soldiers and rescue swimmers from across the state. South Carolina is also sending a ground team of eight soldiers and nine rescue swimmers.
McMaster’s office also says the South Carolina Forestry Commission is sending 18 members of its incident management team to Texas on Wednesday to help with ongoing flood recovery efforts in Texas.
McMaster says the state is ready to provide any additional help Texas may request.
Houston officials say they’re aware of a report of a police officer drowning in his patrol car as he was driving to work.
Mayor Sylvester Turner and police Chief Art Acevedo would not confirm the report in The Houston Chronicle.
The newspaper, citing three department officials it did not name, says the 30-year officer was heading to work Sunday when he became trapped in high water on Intertate 45 in north Harris County and then couldn’t get himself out of his car.
The newspaper says the department hasn’t yet notified his family. Search teams are attempting to recover his body.
A Pentagon official says the military’s contribution to Harvey rescue and recovery efforts could soon increase by tenfold or more.
Air Force Maj. Gen. James Witham told reporters Tuesday that there currently are about 3,500 National Guard troops involved, including about 3,000 from the Texas National Guard. He estimated that the Texas guard number could rise to 8,000 to 10,000 in coming days, possibly joined by 20,000 to 30,000 from other states.
Witham is the director of domestic operations for the National Guard Bureau.
He said the military is providing everything that has been requested by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, although the response is constrained by the stormy weather and by flooding that limits use of roadways.
The Houston police chief says emergency personnel have conducted more than 3,500 rescues since Harvey’s floodwaters began overtaking the city.
Chief Art Acevedo said during a news conference Tuesday attended by Mayor Sylvester Turner and other top officials that police officers and other emergency workers are rescuing people from rising waters even as their own homes are inundated.
Calls for help are expected to continue. The National Hurricane Center forecasts that Harvey will produce another 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain over the upper Texas coast and southwestern Louisiana through Friday.
At least three deaths are attributed to the storm but many more people are missing and Acevedo previously said he’s “really worried about how many bodies we’re going to find.”
Harvey has set a new continental U.S. record for rainfall from a tropical system.
A weather station southeat of Houston at Mary’s Creek at Winding Road, reported 49.32 inches (125.27 centimeters) of rain as of Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
That breaks the previous record of 48 inches (122 centimeters) set in 1978 in Medina, Texas by Tropical Storm Amelia. The record for all of the U.S. is 52 inches (132 centimeters), set in Hawaii in 1950.
Meteorologist Marc Chenard of the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center says: “It’s a big deal.”
Already 14 spots in Houston have recorded more than 40 inches (102 centimeters) of rain and 36 different locations in Houston have recorded more than 3 feet (90 centimeters) of rain.
This item has been corrected to show that the rainfall record set Tuesday was a record for the continental U.S., not all of the country. That record, of 52 inches was set in Hawaii in 1950.
A spokeswoman says President Donald Trump wants to be “very cautious” about making sure that his activities in Texas don’t disrupt Harvey recovery efforts.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump’s stops Tuesday in Corpus Christi and Austin are intended to highlight coordination at all levels of government and lay the groundwork for what is expected to be a lengthy recovery after the storm.
Trump traveled with the Cabinet secretaries of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development, and the head of the Small Business Administration. Sanders says the secretaries will meet with their Texas counterparts.
Air Force One flew a path to Corpus Christi that avoided flying over Houston, where much of the downtown area is under water
President Donald Trump’s 2020-re-election campaign committee is encouraging supporters to donate to disaster relief efforts for those affected by Harvey.
A note Tuesday to the more than 10 million email addresses the campaign ha collected links to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way and local animal rescue operations. The email encourages people to “help our fellow Americans in need.”
Harvey made landfall four days ago as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years. It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.
Trump is visiting Texas later Tuesday as rains continue to pound the already flooded Houston area.
Lara Trump, an adviser to her father-in-law’s re-election campaign, says in the email that this “is a time to come together as a nation to support those in need.”
Beyonce says she’s working with her charity to assist those in her hometown affected by the flooding from Harvey.
The Houston native said in a statement to The Houston Chronicle late Monday that “my heart goes out to my hometown, Houston, and I remain in constant prayer for those affected.”
Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson formed Destiny’s Child as teenagers in Houston.
Harvey made landfall four days ago as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years.
Beyonce said she’s praying “for the rescuers who have been so brave and determined.” The singer said she is working closely with her organization BeyGOOD and her pastor to find ways to help those affected.
A Harris County official says swift currents in the Houston Ship Channel caused by recent heavy rain could damage pipelines buried in the river bed.
Jeff Lindner, of the Harris County Flood Control District, says the pipelines could be subject to “scouring,” when the fast-moving water washes away the cover over buried pipelines, exposing them and making them more liable to break.
During flooding in 1994 caused by about 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in the Houston area, eight pipelines broke across the San Jacinto basin, spilling almost 1.5 million gallons of oil ad petroleum products. The National Transportation Safety Board says more than 500 people suffered injuries, mostly minor burns, when fuel from those pipeline breaks ignited.
Hundreds of petrochemical industry pipelines crisscross Houston and southeast Texas, carrying crude oil, highly flammable fuels such as gasoline, and explosive natural gas.
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Officials say a levee near a subdivision of homes in a county south of Houston has been breached and water is pouring into the area.
Brazoria County posted this message on Twitter on Tuesday morning: “NOTICE: The levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached!! GET OUT NOW!!”
Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta says that the water has come over the levee in the northeast part of the subdivision and is starting to fill the area.
He says residents were told that at some point the levee would be “overtopped.” He said that a mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday.
Sebesta says there are hundreds of homes there. He says hopefully “very few” are still in the area.