Hurricane Harvey before making landfall
Hurricane Harvey before making landfall

Last week, as read­ers know, Hur­ri­cane Har­vey roared ashore in Texas, mak­ing its first land­fall at Rock­port around 03:00 UTC. It is the first hur­ri­cane to make land­fall in the south­ern Unit­ed States in twelve years, end­ing a record stretch that began fol­low­ing the dev­as­ta­tion caused by Hur­ri­canes Kat­ri­na and Wilma in 2005.

Hurricane Harvey before making landfall
Hur­ri­cane Har­vey before mak­ing landfall

Since then, Har­vey has pum­meled Texas with rain, rain, and more rain. Hous­ton and out­ly­ing air­ports are expe­ri­enc­ing a thou­sand year flood of cat­a­stroph­ic, epic pro­por­tions. The metro area’s air­ports and sea­ports are shut down, high­ways are awash in mul­ti­ple feet of water, and homes and busi­ness­es are flood­ed, with some dwellings and com­mer­cial build­ings sub­merged prac­ti­cal­ly to their rooflines.

And the rain is still falling, adding to the state’s mis­ery. Dam­age is already in the bil­lions and may well sur­pass the records set by Kat­ri­na and Sandy.

The five costli­est Atlantic hur­ri­canes, via Wikipedia

(Bil­lions USD)
Sea­sonStorm clas­si­fi­ca­tion
at peak intensity
Areas affect­ed
Kat­ri­na$108.02005Cat­e­go­ry 5 hurricane
Sandy$75.02012Cat­e­go­ry 3 hurricane
Ike$37.52008Cat­e­go­ry 4 hurricane
Wilma$29.42005Cat­e­go­ry 5 hurricane
Andrew$26.51992Cat­e­go­ry 5 hurricane
  • The Bahamas
  • Flori­da
  • Unit­ed States Gulf Coast

Har­vey has been down­grad­ed to a Trop­i­cal Storm since it came ashore last week, but that’s no com­fort to the mil­lions of peo­ple grap­pling with the hav­oc it’s causing.

How unprece­dent­ed is Hurricane/Tropical Storm Har­vey? So unprece­dent­ed that the Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice had to devise a new col­or scheme for their graph­ics in order to effec­tive­ly map the amount of pre­cip­i­ta­tion the Texas coast is seeing.

Take a look:

Harvey rainfall before update

Harvey rainfall after update

In the past, to get a sense of the destruc­tive­ness of storms like Kat­ri­na or Andrew from the air, soci­ety relied on stills and video shot by mil­i­tary heli­copters or news chop­pers. But now, due to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of drones, we’ve got far more eyes in the sky. Take a look at these videos, all cap­tured over the past two days, which pow­er­ful­ly doc­u­ment the mas­sive flood­ing that the state is experiencing.

Here’s a roundup of mass media cov­er­age assess­ing the stor­m’s impact:

The lat­est watch­es and warn­ings from the Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice are below:

The present fore­cast sug­gests Har­vey will move out into the Gulf and then make land­fall again, caus­ing even more dev­as­ta­tion. It will be many days before coastal Texas gets a respite from the extreme weath­er it is experiencing.

It’s impor­tant to note that the trend of increas­ing­ly cat­a­stroph­ic storms we’re see­ing are linked to the plan­e­tary fever induced by humankind’s burn­ing of fos­sil fuels. Extreme weath­er of all kinds is one of the con­se­quences of glob­al warming.

A year ago, Al Gore came to Hous­ton to lead a Cli­mate Real­i­ty train­ing in Texas’ largest city. While there, Gore talked about Texas’ sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to extreme weath­er exac­er­bat­ed by the cli­mate cri­sis. As report­ed by the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle:

“Every storm now is dif­fer­ent because of how we’re mod­i­fy­ing the cli­mate of the Earth,” Gore said.

Warmer air can hold more water vapor and unleash in the form of what Gore called “rain bombs.” He lament­ed the lat­est flood­ing in Louisiana that’s tak­en at least 10 lives and flood­ed tens of thou­sands of homes.

He not­ed Texas has suf­fered more multi­bil­lion-dol­lar cli­mate dis­as­ters in the past 35 years than any oth­er state. Hous­ton was hit by five major floods from May 2015 through this May — two 100-year floods and one 1,000-year flood. In May 2015, he added,Texas had its raini­est month ever at “almost Noah-like” proportions.

“We have built a civ­i­liza­tion for con­di­tions that we are now in the process of rapid­ly chang­ing, and the con­se­quences are extreme,” Gore said. “These sta­tis­tics that say once in 1,000 years or once in 500 years are not accu­rate anymore.”

Empha­sis is mine. The term “thou­sand year flood” is increas­ing­ly los­ing rel­e­vance giv­en how fre­quent­ly events like Har­vey are imper­il­ing metrop­o­lis­es like Hous­ton, which is iron­i­cal­ly the fos­sil fuels cap­i­tal of the Unit­ed States (many oil and gas com­pa­nies have their head­quar­ters in the city).

Gore’s appear­ance in Hous­ton came ten years after this farce of an op-ed by Robert Bradley ran in the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle. Bradley, a right winger on the pay­roll of the fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies, accused Gore of “cli­mate alarmism” and sneered that Gore “was telling whop­pers again” despite the fact that Gore’s Oscar-win­ning doc­u­men­tary An Incon­ve­nient Truth accu­rate­ly pre­sent­ed the sci­en­tif­ic consensus.

It’s get­ting hard­er for shills like Bradley to deny the sci­ence of the cli­mate cri­sis, as the evi­dence of a warm­ing world is grow­ing more pro­found by the day.

Oth­er coastal cities face not only the threat of flood­ing from extreme weath­er (hur­ri­canes, rain bombs) but sea lev­el rise.

For exam­ple, Mia­mi Beach in Flori­da has already seen water in its streets just from tides. Scenes from this dis­turb­ing devel­op­ment were fea­tured in Al Gore’s new doc­u­men­tary An Incon­ve­nient Sequel, which debuted in the­aters a month ago.

How can you help vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey? The New York Times has a good primer on which orga­ni­za­tions you can trust with your money.

Local Organizations

The Hur­ri­cane Har­vey Relief Fund of Houston’s may­or, Sylvester Turn­er, which is admin­is­tered by the Greater Hous­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Foundation.

Hous­ton Food Bank and the Food Bank of Cor­pus Christi are ask­ing for donations.

Carter Blood­Care cov­ers hos­pi­tals in north, cen­tral and east Texas. To donate, call 877–571-1000 or text DONATE4LIFE to 444–999.

To help ani­mals suf­fer­ing from the dis­as­ter, vis­it the Hous­ton Humane Soci­ety or the San Anto­nio Humane Soci­ety.

The Texas Dia­per Bank in San Anto­nio is ask­ing for dia­pers and wipes, which can be dropped off in per­son or mailed to 5415 Ban­dera Road, Suite 504, San Anto­nio, Tex., 78238.

For more options, the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency rec­om­mends check­ing with the Nation­al Vol­un­tary Orga­ni­za­tions Active in Dis­as­ter for a list of trust­ed dis­as­ter-relief orga­ni­za­tions in Texas.

We’re stronger togeth­er — let’s do what we can to help Tex­ans with­stand Harvey!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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