Several days after Hurricane Harvey crushed coastal Texan communities, the storm system has moved eastward into Louisiana as other possible hurricanes contemplate forming in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Yet the continuing Harvey threat hasn’t left Texas, where a chemical plant exploded near Houston on Thursday morning. Fortunately, that fire will burn itself out, and most nearby people had already evacuated after proper warnings, but as Gov. Greg Abbott said on Wednesday, “The worst is not yet over.”
Currently, Harvey’s official death toll stands at 37 after the “most extreme rain event” in Texas history. However, it’s understood that this number will increase after flood waters recede and more bodies are recovered. In addition, Houston has ordered more overnight evacuations, this time near Barker Reservoir as continuing controlled water releases have placed even more homes in jeopardy. Evacuation orders will stay in place until further notice, and local CBS affiliate KHOU relays word from emergency management spokesman Alan Spears, who warns, “It’s just not safe to go back there.”
An hour away from Houston, the city of Beaumont is struggling to cope without running water after both local pumps failed. The city has also lost access to its backup water source, which leaves 118,000 residents without drinking water while they remain stranded, and repairs remain impossible until after waters recede. Officials are also warning residents to stay out of floodwaters after a number of electrocution deaths have occurred due to fallen power lines. In this photo, a group of volunteers arrives in Beaumont, where they’ll work for weeks to help residents evacuate and recover.
As part of the ongoing federal response to Harvey, the military has mobilized thousands of troops, along with accompanying warships and aircraft, to assist in flooded areas. They arrive in addition to the 12,000 National Guard members in Texas who were activated by Gov. Abbott days ago, plus the Coast Guard members and other troops already on the scene. Texas faces years of recovery and rebuilding after this storm, but for now, it’s all about search, rescue, and survival.