Hurricane Harvey broke records when it came ashore and hit Houston, Texas this week and it’s not done yet. Even though it has been downgraded to a tropical storm, Harvey is expected to continue dumping heavy rainfall on the area throughout Monday. Mass evacuations were prompted throughout the area, as river levels rose to levels not seen in centuries, making Harvey the most forceful Texas hurricane in the past five decades.
The storm is expected to stick around, wreaking havoc on Houston and the general Gulf of Mexico area for a few more days. Reports indicate this will be the worst level of rainfall experienced in Texas in several years, causing flooding that has killed at least two people and continues to drive people from their homes. The flooding has overrun much of Houston, turning roads into dangerous rivers. As a result, schools, businesses, and government offices have closed their doors, while residents remaining in the areas are confined to their homes.
Rain from Harvey bombarded areas as far as 150 miles (240 km) from Houston, flooding rivers and roads surrounding the city for miles in every direction. 35 miles (55 km) southwest of Houston, the county of Ford Bend ordered its residents to vacate the area, sending more than 50,000 residents fleeing for unaffected areas of Texas and beyond.
The evacuation was prompted by the estimation that Brazos River would soon crest to over 59 feet (18 m), which is 14 feet (4.3 m) higher than its allowable flood stage.
Steve Bowen, chief meteorologist at Aon Benfield, a Houston area reinsurance firm, says this is the most destructive flood in the recorded history of Houston, which spans more than 800 years. Rainfall for the coastal areas of Texas is expected to reach 50 inches (127 cm), which is the total rainfall the area usually expects for an entire year.
Currently, there are over 1,000 people taking shelter in Houston’s convention center. One person, Maria Davila, says the water flooded her house so quickly that they were unable to leave by the time they realized what was happening.
Rescuers are using motorboats, airboats, and Humvees to help evacuate hundreds of trapped residents, as water levels continue to rise.
Hurricane Harvey raises financial concerns, as well as humanitarian issues. The area represents half of the country’s oil refining capacity, suggesting gas and oil prices will soon begin to rise to combat the limited supply. Already, gasoline futures rose as much as 7% on Sunday evening.
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