Heavy Rain Has Left Texas, But Not
August 31, 2017
As the remnants of what was once Hurricane Harvey brought heavy rain to
Louisiana on Thursday, leaving flooded east Texas to start drying out
but still facing danger from flooding, the town of Crosby east of
Houston anticipated additional explosions after two early morning blasts
at a chemical plant.
Residents of Crosby were ordered to evacuate their homes after the
explosions at the Arkema, Inc. plant emitted nine-to-12 meter flames and
black smoke, resulting in the hospitalization of 15 sheriff's deputies
who inhaled the smoke. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said 13 of the
deputies had been released after receiving treatment for inhaling a
"non-toxic irritant," while the other two were "still being checked
The plumes, however, are considered hazardous by Federal Emergency
Management Agency Administrator Brock Long. He told reporters Thursday
in Washington they are considered "incredibly dangerous."
Arkema executive Richard Rennard said at a news conference in Crosby
"there is a possibility" more explosions could occur after the company
and local officials agreed the best plan was to allow the plant's
extremely flammable organic peroxides to burn themselves out.
Rennard acknowledged the situation at the plant "is a very serious
issue" and that the smoke "is certainly noxious." Rennard said anyone
who was exposed to the smoke could potentially suffer irritation to the
eyes, lungs or skin. He urged those exposed to "call their doctor or to
seek medical advice."
Bob Royall of the Harris County Fire Marshall's Office said authorities
established a 2.4-kilometer "evacuation zone" around the plant to ensure
"our citizens are safe and that our environment is protected to the best
Forecasters expected parts of Louisiana to receive 10 to 20 centimeters
of rain Thursday as the storm system continued moving inland toward the
states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky.
The National Hurricane Center said that while the risk of more rain is
over for the city of Houston, "catastrophic and life-threatening
flooding" will still be present there and over to Beaumont, Texas and
into southwestern Louisiana for the rest of this week.
The lingering threat of floodwaters was also clear Thursday as Fort Bend
County, on the southwest side of Houston, announced a mandatory
evacuation for people living near a reservoir due to "imminent
Beaumont said the flooding has caused its water system to stop working,
and the city will have to wait until the water recedes before workers
can make repairs. "There is no way to determine how long this will take
at this time," a statement said.
Some services resume
In Houston, where some parts of the metropolitan area saw as much as 130
centimeters of rain, city services were resuming Thursday with regular
trash pickup and limited bus and rail schedules. Flights into and out of
Houston's two main airports resumed on Wednesday.
Houston's fire department said it will go block by block, starting
Thursday, to look through areas with floodwaters of at least one meter
in order to make sure "no people were left behind."
Officials in Texas have confirmed more than 30 storm-related deaths.
Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes and
some 32,000 others forced into shelters.
Vice President Mike Pence is visiting Texas on Thursday. He wrote on
Twitter that President Donald Trump is sending him with the message, "We
will be with you every single day to restore, recover, and rebuild."
Pence said Wednesday the recovery process will be long and that everyone
needs to do their part to help.
"When Congress reconvenes next week, the president will be calling on
our nation's lawmakers...to take immediate action to pass additional
funding for federal disaster assistance for families and businesses
affected by this storm."
Pence will be accompanied several other Cabinet secretaries, including
Energy Secretary and Texas native Rick Perry.
Trump visited Texas on Tuesday and plans to return on Saturday.
an event Wednesday, the president praised emergency workers as heroes
whose "courage and devotion have saved countless lives."
"In difficult times such as these, we see the true character of the
American people," Trump said. "Their strength, their love, and their
resolve. We see friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, and
stranger helping stranger."
Estimates of the damage from the storm range into the tens of billions
A multitude of charity efforts have raised millions of dollars from
businesses, celebrities and every day people to help those who need
immediate help as well as more long-term assistance in rebuilding.
The Associated Press reported rap star Bun B, a Houston native, was
gathering talent for a hurricane aid concert to be televised on four
national networks September 12.He is working with music manager Scooter
Braun, who produced the charity concert Ariana Grande held in Manchester