As the situation in Texas continues to deteriorate, due to incessant rainfall and “catastrophic” flooding in the region following the disastrous Hurricane Harvey, US President Donald Trump is set to visit two cities in Texas, Corpus and Chisti, on Tuesday, to take stock of the situation. The 45th President of the United States is facing the biggest US natural disaster since he took oath in January. He has already signed on disaster proclamations and sanctioned federal relief efforts for the victims of the hurricane in Texas and Louisiana.
Here is everything you need to know about Hurricane Harvey and why it is being described as the “most destructive storm in Texas in 50 years”:
What is Hurricane Harvey?
Hurricane Harvey is the strongest tropical hurricane to strike United States after the disastrous Category-5 Hurricane Wilma in Florida in 2005. According to the National Hurricane Center, the hurricane originated from a tropical wave which was passing through Gulf of Mexico on August 17. On its way to Texas in United States, Harvey had an impact on parts of Barbados, Martinique, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. According to a New York Times article, Harvey landed in northeast of Corpus Christi, in Texas, at around 9:45 am last week.
It was designated as a Category-4 hurricane and struck Chisti at a wind speed of 130 miles per hour. The storm then moved towards Copano Bay, as a Category 3 Hurricane. On its way, Harvey affected some of the most populous areas in Texas. It moved along state’s Gulf Coast, from Corpus Chisti to Houston, and then went inwards to Austin and San Antonio.
What has been the damaged caused so far?
Along with strong winds, Harvey brought along a heavy downpour with itself, which has continued for last few days. The torrential rains have continued non-stop, causing massive flooding in parts of Texas. According to the latest reports by news agency Reuters, at least 7 people have died due to floodwaters, and many have been injured. Over tens of thousands of people are expected to go homeless by the time the rain stops. Around 13 million people are battling with the “catastrophic flooding” and torrential rains in the region.
According to US National Weather Service, the rain is expected to continue till Wednesday. According to scientific researchers cited by news agency Associated Press, by the time the rains tops, Harvey would have dumped about a million gallons of water for every man, woman and child in southeastern Texas.
The fourth-largest city in the US, Houston, has been completely inundated due to unceasing rains following Hurricane Harvey, making hundreds of civilians in the region getting stranded. National Guard troops, police officers and rescue workers are engaged in massive rescue operations to help the stranded civilians. Both the major airports along with primary highways, railways line in Houston were closed down over the weekend. Over 2,67,000 civilians in Texas were left without power in the states’s southeast corner.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Brock Long estimated that 30,000 people would eventually be housed temporarily in shelters. He also said the recovery from the natural disasters will take years. In a statement to media, he said, “This disaster’s going to be a landmark event.”
The flooding in Houston has also impacted the large-scale US refinery outages on Tuesday. Due to disruptions in supply in Colombia and Libya, crude prices saw a rise. Massive floods caused by Harvey led to the shutdown of several refineries, causing US gasoline pries increased to $1.7799 per gallon on Monday.
Have Indians living in Texas been affected?
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that at least 200 Indian students are stranded in Houston University which has seen massive flooding after Hurricane Harvey. The Union Minister said the students are surrounded by “neck-deep” water and added that efforts were being made to provide food and basic amenities to the students but the US Coast Guard denied permission as boats were required for rescue efforts.
Later Consul General of India in Houston Anupam Ray, informed that the students of Houston University affected by the Hurricane are safe. Meanwhile, two Indian students, studying at Texas A&M University, are reported to be in a critical condition after they nearly drowned in Lake Bryan in Texas. Students, who were identified as Shalini and Nikhil Bhatia, were taken to CHI St. Joseph Hospital. While Nikhil has shown no change in condition since being admitted to the hospital, Shalini has shown some signs of improvement.
How has Trump government responded?
The White House, on Monday, announced that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will depart on Tuesday morning to Corpus Chisti, where they will be brief on the relief efforts made by the local leaders and relief organisation. The couple will then head towards Austin to take a view of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Operations Center. State leaders will brief the President and the First Lady.
We will come out stronger and believe me, we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before,” Trump, who is suffering through low approval ratings for a long time, said in a White House conference on Monday. He has actively been tweeting about the relief efforts and cheered on the emergency teams. “You are doing a great job, the world is watching!” he wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday announced the decision to activate entire Texas National Guard to help in the rescue efforts in Houston. The total number of deployed guardsman in the region went up to roughly 12000. In a press release, Abbott said, “It is imperative that we do everything possible to protect the lives and safety of people across the state of Texas as we continue to face the aftermath of this storm,” said Governor Abbott.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Sunday defended his decision not to evacuate the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The city was never put under an evacuation order, even with the dangerous Harvey threatening southeast Texas. Speaking at a press conference, Turner said, “You literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road. If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare.”
A look at horror of Hurricane Harvey in pictures
Take a look at some of the shocking images that encapsulate the horror caused by the disastrous Hurricane Harvey:
What next for Texas?
National Weather Service officials on Tuesday said that the worst is not over in Houston. Painting a dismal picture, officials said the slow-moving storm will continue to pur rain in the next few days in already heavily-flooded areas. “Additional heavy rainfall overnight is expected to worsen the flood situation in southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana,” the National Hurricane Center added.
As per weather forecasts, some regions in and around Houston may see additional 12 inches of rainfall, taking the total rainfall from Harvey up to 50 inches in parts of city’s metropolitan areas.