The Latest: Harvey death count up to 21, woman’s body found – Atlanta Journal Constitution
The Latest on Tropical Depression Harvey (all times local):
Houston officials say they are working to resume various city operations now that the flood waters from Tropical Depression Harvey have begun to recede.
Bus service and the city’s light rail system are set to resume on a limited basis starting on Thursday.
The city’s trash collection service resumed on Wednesday with heavy trash pickup. Regular trash pickup for the city was set to resume on Thursday.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he wanted to ensure that trash removal services resumed as quickly as possible because “there will be a lot of debris.”
Most city employees are not set to return to work until Tuesday.
Houston Fire Department officials say they will begin doing a block-by-block search of neighborhoods that were flooded by Tropical Depression Harvey and had previously been inaccessible to authorities.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena says firefighters will begin searching neighborhoods in southwest Houston starting Thursday morning.
Assistant Fire Chief Richard Mann says the searches are being done to ensure that “no people were left behind.” Floodwaters in many parts of Houston have receded while other neighborhoods are still dealing with rising waters from bayous and other swollen waterways.
Mann says the fire department will conduct these searches throughout the city. Officials expect the process to take one to two weeks to complete.
Mann says since Harvey inundated the Houston area, the fire department has received more than 15,000 calls for service. He says the volume of calls has stabilized and the fire department is working to transition from rescues calls to a recovery mode.
A top county official says Tropical Depression Harvey has taken two lives in Orange, Texas.
Orange County Judge Stephen Carlton would only say the two died Monday night in the city of Orange and that the deaths were storm related. He provided no other details.
The fatalities bring the number of confirmed deaths to 25.
The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Harvey to a tropical depression, but warns of continuing flooding in parts of Southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
In its Wednesday evening update, the hurricane center said Harvey is located about 10 miles (16.09 kilometers) southwest of Alexandria, Louisiana, and has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (56.32 kph).
The center said the threat of heavy rains has ended for the Houston and Galveston areas, but “life-threatening” flooding will continue in and around Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and southwest Louisiana.
Harvey is expected to produce an additional 4 to 8 inches of rainfall along the Texas-Louisiana line.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has donated $1 million to the newly established United Way Harvey Recovery Fund which will go toward relief and recovery efforts for several years.
United Way Worldwide said Wednesday that the national fund will distribute 100 percent of donations to recovery efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded non-profit.
The $1 million from the actor’s foundation represents the inaugural donation to the fund. It is the latest disaster relief support from the Oscar-winner’s namesake foundation.
Many celebrities have pulled out their pocketbooks to help Harvey victims over the past few days including Sandra Bullock, who on Tuesday donated $1 million to the American Red Cross.
In Houston’s flooded Meyerland district, hundreds of families have been emptying their homes of sodden possessions under a baking sun as temperatures crawled up into the 90s. On Wednesday, they piled couches, soggy drywall and carpets ripped out of foul-smelling homes where floodwater had lingered for more than 24 hours. The curbs were lined with the pickup trucks of cleanup contractors and friends.
For Harry Duffey, a 48-year-old computer security specialist, this was flood No. 3 in as many years. He’d moved his family of six back into their one-story ranch a block and a half from Bray’s Bayou eight months ago — after a second remodeling.
They figured that if it flooded they’d just drive to their old house about a mile away on higher ground. But they waited too long.
In no time the water was up to their knees and would reach four feet. They quickly headed to their neighbor’s home. The neighbor rebuilt following an earlier flood on a six-foot foundation, which is what Duffey wants to do now. He’ll apply for a federal flood grant and hope it’s approved because he can’t afford what it would cost to elevate his home.
Just before the flood, Duffey got a notice that his flood insurance premium had nearly doubled to $5,300 a year.
But Duffey has no intention of moving out. First, he can’t afford it. Second, he loves the community.
He says: “I’m not leaving.”
The CEO of a chemical plant northeast of Houston says it could explode and cause an intense fire.
Arkema president and chief executive Rich Rowe said Wednesday that the floodwaters from Harvey and the lack of power are keeping the company from preventing an explosion. The company says the chemical compounds must be stored at low temperatures. He said there is 6 feet of water at the plant and they have lost critical refrigeration of the materials.
Rowe says: “We have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire.”
Arkema makes organic peroxides in Crosby, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston.
Officials have evacuated the plant and homes within 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) of the plant.
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.
Wednesday afternoon brought the unusual sight of Louisiana’s governor holding a news conference on Texas soil.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards visited a command post set up by Louisiana government agencies on the side of Interstate 10 in Orange.
Edwards said Louisiana wanted to send help, including Fish and Wildlife agents and the Louisiana National Guard because “it’s the right thing to do.”
School buses and transit buses were sent from Lake Charles to carry evacuees to two shelters the state is running there. Louisiana has also opened a shelter in Alexandria, the largest city in the central part of the state.
Edwards said he’d spoken to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday about the effort. He said Louisiana would assist for “however long it takes,” saying the state owes its western neighbor a debt for its aid in 2005.
Edwards says, “Twelve years and a day ago, it was Hurricane Katrina.”
Edwards is asking for expansion of a federal emergency disaster declaration as Tropical Storm Harvey moves through the state.
President Donald Trump already has issued such a declaration for five southwestern parishes: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermilion. Edwards is seeking the addition of Allen, Acadia, Iberia, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine and Vernon.
The declaration authorizes the federal government to cover 75 percent of costs of certain emergency protective measures.
Xyrius Langston stood at the edge of a pond in the Houston suburb of Missouri City holding a fishing rod. Several family members were fishing nearby. It was the third pond they had visited Wednesday, looking for something to bite.
Langston’s family spent three days inside their home in Missouri City as the floods outside reached their driveway. He says it was getting “kind of chaotic” inside so he decided to go fishing.
Standing at the pond, Langston said he hadn’t caught anything in several hours and didn’t expect to catch anything. His favorite spots along Matagorda Bay, on the other side of Houston, are still too difficult to reach as many highways and roads remain flooded.
But Langston said he couldn’t fully enjoy the weather, knowing how much of the region remains flooded in. He says he would be helping rescue people if he had a boat.
Water is continuing to rise on Buffalo Bayou in Houston because of releases from one of two reservoirs in west Houston even though the rain from Tropical Storm Harvey has stopped.
Harris County Flood Control District meteorologist Jeff Lindner says it is hard to forecast what happen because several gauges that have been knocked out by the surging waters.
Buffalo Bayou heads west to east across Houston toward downtown.
He said levels in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, which dump water into the bayou, have been constant Wednesday. Edmond Russo, regional engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, says water is being released into the bayou to create more storage capacity in case of future rain and keep the dams from overflowing.(backslash)
Lindner says he would not be surprised if the number of homes flooded reaches 100,000 in Harris County.
Forecasters predict a wobbling and weakening Harvey will be downgraded to a tropical depression late Wednesday or early Thursday and that the killer storm will completely dissipate within three to four days.
But with 40 mph (64 kph) winds as of Wednesday afternoon, Harvey still has lots of rain and potential damage to spread, this time further north.
The National Hurricane Center says that Harvey should drop 4 to 8 inches more of rain from the Louisiana/Texas border northeastward into Tennessee and Kentucky through Friday. Some spots may get as much as a foot of rain. Flooding is a possibility.
The threat of heavy rains for Houston has ended, but catastrophic and potentially deadly flooding will continue around Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and southwest Louisiana for the rest of the week.
Among the places to open their doors to victims of Harvey’s flooding is a bowling alley in the coastal Texas city of Port Arthur.
Max Bowl general manager Jeff Tolliver says firefighters called Tuesday night to ask him to turn off the venue’s alarm system. When he left around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, there were 80 to 100 people sheltering there. By afternoon, there were more than 500, as well as 50 to 100 dogs and cats, a lizard and a monkey.
He says the monkey “was a little surprising,” but that everyone is trying to help. The bowling alley’s cafe is feeding people and others have been dropping off clothes, toiletries, water and other things.
Tolliver and his wife left their flooded home to stay with friends. He says he moved to Texas from Michigan a year ago to get away from the snow, but ended up with rain instead.
Authorities say a married couple who drove their pickup truck into Harvey’s floodwaters has drowned after the current from a nearby creek swept them away.
Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Maj. Chad Norvell says the couple was on the phone with 911 asking for help when the line went silent. When officers found the truck, it was completely submerged.
Norvell identified the couple as 65-year-old Donald Rogers and 58-year-old Rochelle Rogers.
They lived in a rural area of the county southwest of Houston and they were headed to a relative’s house nearby.
The deaths raise the toll from Harvey to at least 23.
A Houston-based telemedicine practice has made its virtual network of 50 doctors available for free to patients affected by Harvey.
Dr. Latisha Rowe said Wednesday that Rowe Docs’ physicians are coordinating with doctors and nurses volunteering at shelters to treat and write prescriptions for Harvey evacuees who fled their homes without medicine or who sustained injuries on the way out.
She said the greatest threat in shelters comes from the contaminated water many people treaded through to safety. She said infections need to be “contained and controlled” so they don’t spread.
Among the network’s doctors is Angela Nunnery, who escaped her flooded home on Houston’s north side by boat and dump truck with her husband, children, 78-year-old mother and two dogs. In addition to a daily shift attending patients online, Nunnery has been volunteering at her church — a makeshift shelter for about 150 evacuees.
She said local pharmacists have been providing patients with a week’s supply of free medicine.
Tropical Storm Harvey has spawned at least one tornado in Mississippi and created bands of strong winds that damaged homes and toppled some trees.
The National Weather Service says the tornado touched down Wednesday in the southern Mississippi town of Petal, which is near Hattiesburg. Local news outlets showed photos of damaged fences and shingles pulled off a home. No injuries were immediately reported.
The weather service was trying to determine whether damage further south was caused by tornadoes or other strong winds. Meteorologist Alek Krautmann says damage was reported in Pearl River County, in the city of Biloxi and in a subdivision between Ocean Springs and Gautier (GO-shay).
He says Harvey also caused flash flooding before dawn Wednesday in parts of Pascagoula.
This version of the Latest corrects the last word of the 3:50 p.m. item to Pascagoula.
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued emergency waivers allowing states from Maryland to Texas to ignore some clean-air requirements for gasoline to ensure an adequate fuel supply despite disruptions caused by Harvey.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says the waivers issued Wednesday will help ensure an adequate supply of fuel throughout the South, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
In a letter to governors, Pruitt says the shutdown of nearly a dozen refineries and extreme weather conditions that have prevented fuel-barge movement in the Gulf Coast region justify the waiver. The designated states receive significant gasoline supplies from Gulf-area refineries.
The waivers are effective immediately and continue through Sept. 15 at least.
Affected states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.
Residents of a retirement home in Orange, Texas are being evacuated by airboat from the flooded facility about 30 miles east of Beaumont.
Agents from the Florida Wildlife Commission and two trucks from the Louisiana Army National Guard are participating in the evacuation of the Golden Years Retirement home.
Water in the parking lot was thigh deep about 3 p.m. Wednesday as guardsmen entered the building and carried residents from the second floor where they had been sheltering in a dry area of the small facility.
Wildlife agents then floated the residents, one-by-one in a Wildlife Commission airboat to the truck. About six residents had been rescued as of midafternoon and it was unclear how many more were sheltering on the second floor.
Texas Health and Human Services records show Golden Years has a licensed capacity of 16. Department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said more than 2,800 residents of about 120 long-term care facilities in areas affected by Harvey had been evacuated by Tuesday. That number was expected to grow.